Skip to main content

Full text of "The influence of Darwin on philosophy, and other essays in contemporary thought"

See other formats


And Other Essays in Contemporary 


Professor of Philosophy in Columbia University 






Copyright, 1910, 



Published April, 1910 

&«.ae* ;u u. d» A* 


An elaborate preface to a philosophic work 
usually impresses one as a last desperate effort on 
the part of its author to convey what he feels 
he has not quite managed to say in the body of 
his book. Nevertheless, a collection of essays on 
various topics written during a series of years 
may perhaps find room for an independent word 
to indicate the kind of unity they seem, to their 
writer, to possess. Probably every one acquainted 
with present philosophic thought — found, with 
some notable exceptions, in periodicals rather 
than in books — would term it a philosophy of 
transition and reconstruction. Its various repre- 
sentatives agree in what they oppose — the ortho- 
dox British empiricism of two generations ago and 
the orthodox Neo-Kantian idealism of the last 
generation — rather than in what they proffer. 

The essays of this volume belong, I suppose, to 
what has come to be known (since the earlier of 
them were written) as the pragmatic phase of the 
newer movement. Now a recent German critic has 
' described pragmatism as, " Epistemologically, 
nominalism ; psychologically, voluntarism ; cosmo- 
lo gically,^energism ; metaphysically, agnosticism; 
ethically, meliorism on the basis of the Bentham- 



Mill utilitarianism." * It may be that pragmatism 
will turn out to be all of this formidable array; 
but even should it, the one who thus defines it has 
hardly come within earshot of it. For whatever 
else pragmatism is or is not, the pragmatic spirit 
is primarily a revolt against that habit of mind 4 
which disposes of anything whatever — even so 
humble an affair as a new method in Philosophy — 
by tucking it away, after this fashion, in the 
pigeon holes of a filing cabinet. There are other 
vital phases of contemporary transition and revi- 
sion; there are, for example, a new realism and 
naturalistic idealism. When I recall that I find 
myself more interested (even though their repre- 
sentatives might decline to reciprocate) in such 
phases than in the systems marked by the labels 
of our German critic, I am confirmed in a belief 
that after all it is better to view pragmatism quite 
vaguely as part and parcel of a general move- 
ment of intellectual reconstruction. For other- 
wise we seem to have no recourse save to define 
pragmatism — as does our German author — in 
terms of the very past systems against which it is 
a reaction ; or, in escaping that alternative, to re- 
gard it as a fixed rival system making like claim to 

1 The affair is even more portentous in the German with 
its capital letters and series of muses: "Gewiss ist der 
Pragmatismus erkenntnisstheoretisch Nominalismus, psy- 
chologisch Voluntarismus, naturphilosophisch Energismus, 
metaphysisch Agnosticismus, ethisch Meliorismus auf 
Grundlage des Bentham-Millschen Utilitarismus." 


completeness and finality. And if, as I believe, one 
of the marked traits of the pragmatic movement is 
just the surrender of every such claim, how have 
we furthered our understanding of pragmatism? 

Classic philosophies have to be revised because 
they must be squared up with the many social 
and intellectual tendencies that have revealed 
themselves since those philosophies matured. The 
conquest of the sciences by the experimental 
method of inquiry; the injection of evolutionary 

idea s into the study of life and society; the ap- 
plication of the historic method to religions and 
morals as well as to institutions; the creation of 
the sciences of " origins " and of the cultural 
development of mankind — how can such intellec- 
tual changes occur and leave philosophy what it 
was and where it was? Nor can philosophy re- 
main an indifferent spectator of the rise of what 
may be termed the new individualism in art and 
letters, with its naturalistic method applied in a 
religious, almost mystic spirit to what is primi- 
tive, obscure, varied, inchoate, and growing in 
nature and human character. The age of Darwin, 
Helmholtz, Pasteur, Ibsen, Maeterlinck, Rodin, and 
Henry James must feel some uneasiness until it 
has liquidated its philosophic inheritance in cur- 
rent intellectual coin. And to accuse those who 
are concerned in this transaction of ignorant con- 
tempt for the classic past of philosophy is to over- 


look the inspiration the movement of translation 
draws from the fact that the history of philosophy 
has become only too well understood. 

Any revision of customary notions with its 
elimination — instead of " solution " — of many 
traditionary problems cannot hope, however, for 
any unity save that of tendency and operation. 
Elaborate and imposing system, the regimenting 
and uniforming of thoughts, are, at present, evi- 
dence that we are assisting at a stage performance 
in which borrowed — or hired — figures are maneu- 
vering. Tentatively and piecemeal must the re- 
construction of our stock notions proceed. As a 
contribution to such a revision, the present collec- 
tion of essays is submitted. With one or two 
exceptions, their order is that of a reversed 
chronology, the later essays coming first. The 
facts regarding the conditions of their first ap- 
pearance are given in connection with each essay. 
I wish to thank the Editors of the Philosophical 
Review, of Mind, of the Hibbert Journal, of the 
Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific 
Methods, and of the Popular Science Monthly, 
and the Directors of the Press of Chicago and 
Columbia Universities, respectively, for permission 
to reprint such of the essays as appeared orig- 
inally under their several auspices. 

John Dewey 

Columbia University, &*>& 

New York City, March 1, 1910. 


v The Influence op Darwinism on Philosophy 

Nature and Its Good: A Conversation . 

Intelligence and Morals 

V The Experimental Theory of Knowledge 

The Intellectualist Criterion for Truth 

\/ A Short Catechism Concerning Truth 

Beliefs and Existences .... 

v Experience and Objective Idealism 

v The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism 

" Consciousness " and Experience . 


The Significance of the Problem of Knowl 









THAT the publication of the "Origin of 
Species " marked an epoch in the develop- 
ment of the natural sciences is well known to the 
layman. That the combination of the very words 
origin and species embodied an intellectual revolt 
and introduced a new intellectual temper is easily 
overlooked by the expert. The conceptions that 
had reigned in the philosophy of nature and knowl- 
edge for two thousand years, the conceptions that 
had become the familiar furniture of the mind, 
rested on the assumption of the superiority of the 
fixed and final; they rested upon treating change 
and origin as signs of defect and unreality. In 
laying hands upon the sacred ark of absolute 
permanency, in treating the forms that had been 
regarded as types of fixity and perfection as 

*A lecture in a course of public lectures on "Charles 
Darwin and His Influence on Science," given at Columbia 
University in the winter and spring of 1909. Reprinted 
from the Popular Science Monthly for July, 1909, 


originating and passing away, the " Origin of 
Species " introduced a mode of thinking that in 
the end was bound to transform the logic of 
knowledge, and hence the treatment of morals, 
politics, and religion. 

No wonder, then, that the publication of Dar- 
win's book, a half century ago, precipitated a crisis. 
The true nature of the controversy is easily con- 
cealed from us, however, by the theological clamor 
that attended it. The vivid and popular features 
of the anti-Darwinian row tended to leave the im- 
pression that the issue was between science on one 
6ide and theology on the other. Such was not the 
case — the issue lay primarily within science itself, 
as Darwin himself early recognized. The theolog- 
ical outcry he discounted from the start, hardly 
noticing it save as it bore upon the " feelings of 
his female relatives." But for two decades before 
final publication he contemplated the possibility 
of being put down by his scientific peers as a fool 
or as crazy; and he set, as the measure of his 
success, the degree in which he should affect three 
men of science : Lyell in geology, Hooker in botany, 
and Huxley in zoology. 

Religious considerations lent fervor to the con- 
troversy, but they did not provoke it. Intellectu- 
ally, religious emotions are not creative but con- 
servative. They attach themselves readily to the 
current view of the world and consecrate it. They 


steep and dye intellectual fabrics in the seething 
vat of emotions; they do not form their warp 
and woof. There is not, I think, an instance of 
any large idea about the world being independently 
generated by religion. Although the ideas that 
rose up like armed men against Darwinism owe4 
their intensity to religious associations, their origin 
and meaning are to be sought in science and philos- 
ophy, not in religion. 


Few words in our language foreshorten intel- 
lectual history as much as does the word species. 
The Greeks, in initiating the intellectual life of 
Europe, were impressed by characteristic traits 
of the life of plants and animals; so impressed 
indeed that they made these traits the key to 
defining nature and to explaining mind and society. 
[And truly, life is so wonderful that a seemingly 
successful reading of its mystery might well lead 
men to believe that the key to the secrets of 
heaven and earth was in their hands J The Greek 
rendering of this mystery, the Greek formulation 
of the aim and standard of knowledge, was in the 
course of time embodied in the word species, and it 
controlled philosophy for two thousand years. To 
understand the intellectual face-about expressed 
in the phrase " Origin of Species," we must, then, 


understand the long dominant idea against which it 
is a protest. 

Consider how men were impressed by the facts 
of life. Their eyes fell upon certain things slight 
in bulk, and frail in structure. To every appear- 
ance, these perceived things were inert and passive. 
Suddenly, under certain circumstances, these 
things — henceforth known as seeds or eggs or 
germs — begin to change, to change rapidly in size, 
form, and qualities. Rapid and extensive changes 
occur, however, in many things — as when wood is 
touched by fire. But the changes in the living 
thing are orderly ; they are cumulative ; they tend 
constantly in one direction ; they do not, like other 
changes, destroy or consume, or pass fruitless into 
wandering flux ; they realize and fulfil. Each suc- 
cessive stage, no matter how unlike its predecessor, 
preserves its net effect and also prepares the way 
for a fuller activity on the part of its successor. In 
living beings, changes do not happen as they seem 
to happen elsewhere, any which way; the earlier 
changes are regulated in view of later results. 
This progressive organization does not cease till 
there is achieved a true final term, a rsXq?, a. com- 
pleted, perfected end. This final form exercises 
in turn a plenitude of functions, not the least note- 
worthy of which is production of germs like those 
from which it took its own origin, germs capable 
of the same cycle of self-fulfilling activity. 


But the whole miraculous tale is not yet told. 
The same drama is enacted to the same destiny 
in countless myriads of individuals so sundered in 
time, so severed in space, that they have no oppor- 
tunity for mutual consultation and no means of 
interaction. As an old writer quaintly said, 
" things of the same kind go through the same 
formalities " — celebrate, as it were, the same 
ceremonial rites.,, 

This formal activity which operates throughout 
a series of changes and holds them to a single 
course ; which subordinates their aimless flux to its 
own perfect manifestation; which, leaping the 
boundaries of space and time, keeps individuals 
distant in space and remote in time to a uniform 
type of structure and function: this principle 
seemed to give insight into the very nature of 
reality itself. To it Aristotle gave the name, eidoS. i 
This term the scholastics translated as species. 

The force of this term was deepened by its 
application to everything in the universe that ob- v 
serves order in flux and manifests constancy j 
through change. From the casual drift of daily J 
weather, through the uneven recurrence of seasons 
and unequal return of seed time and harvest, up 
to the majestic sweep of the heavens — the image 
of eternity in time — and from this to the unchang- 
ing pure and contemplative intelligence beyond na- 
ture lies one unbroken fulfilment of ends. Nature 


as a whole is a progressive realization of purpose 
strictly comparable to the realization of purpose 
in any single plant or animal. 

The conception of eidoS, species, a fixed form 
and final cause, was the central principle of knowl- 
edge as well as of nature. Upon it rested the 
logic of science. Change as change is mere flux 
and lapse; it insults intelligence. Genuinely to 
know is to grasp a permanent end that realizes 
itself through changes, holding them thereby with- 
in the metes and bounds of fixed truth. Completely 
to know is to relate all special forms to their one 
single end and good: pure contemplative intelli- 
gence. Since, however, the scene of nature which 
directly confronts us is in change, nature as 
directly and practically experienced does not sat- 
isfy the conditions of knowledge. Human ex- 
perience is in flux, and hence the instrumentalities 
of sense-perception and of inference based upon 
observation are condemned in advance. Science 
is compelled to aim at realities lying behind and 
beyond the processes of nature, and to carry on 
its search for these realities by means of rational 
forms transcending ordinary modes of perception 
and inference. 

There are, indeed, but two alternative courses. 
We must either find the appropriate objects and 
organs of knowledge in the mutual interactions 
of changing things; or else, to escape the infec- 


tion of change, we must seek them in some trans- 
cendent and supernal region. The human mind, 
deliberately as it were, exhausted the logic of the 
changeless, the final, and the transcendent, before 
it essayed adventure on the pathless* wastes of 
generation and transformation. We dispose all - 
too easily of the efforts of the schoolmen to in- 
terpret nature and mind in terms of real essences, t 
hidden forms, and occult faculties, forgetful of 
the seriousness and dignity of the ideas that lay 
behind. We dispose of them by laughing at the 
famous gentleman who accounted for the fact that 
opium put people to sleep on the ground it had a 
dormitive faculty. But the doctrine, held in our 
own day, that knowledge of the plant that yields 
the poppy consists in referring the peculiarities 
of an individual to a type, to a universal form, * 
a doctrine so firmly established that any other 
method of knowing was conceived to be unphilo- 
sophical and unscientific, is a survival of precisely 
the same logic. This identity of conception in 
the* scholastic and anti-Darwinian theory may well 
suggest greater sympathy for what has become 
unfamiliar as well as greater humility regarding 
the further unfamiliarities that history has in 

" Darwin was not, of course, the first to question 
the classic philosophy of nature and of knowledge. 
The beginnings of the revolution are in the phys- 


iical science of the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies. When Galileo said : a It is my opinion that 
the earth is very noble and admirable by reason 
of so many and so different alterations and gen- 
erations which are incessantly made therein," he 
expressed the changed temper that was coming over 
the world; the transfer of interest from the per- 
manent to the changing. When Descartes said: 
" The nature of physical things is much more 
easily conceived when they are beheld coming grad- 
ually into existence, than when they are only con- 
sidered as produced at once in a finished and per- 
fect state," the modern world became self-conscious 
of the logic that was henceforth to control it, the 
logic of which Darwin's u Origin of Species " is 
the latest scientific achievement. Without _£he 
methods of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and their 
successors in astronomy, physics, and chemistry, 
Darwin would have been helpless in the organic 
sciences. But prior to Darwin the impact of the 
new scientific method upon life, mind, and politics, 
had been arrested, because between these ideal or 
moral interests and the inorganic world intervened 
the kingdom of plants and animals. The gates of 
the garden of life were barred to the new ideas; 
and only through this garden was there access 
to mind and politics. The influence of Darwin 
upon philosophy resides in his having conquered 
\rJ the phenomena of life for the principle of transi- 

Darwinism and philosophy 

hi / 

tion, and thereby freed the new logic for applica- 
tion to mind and morals and life. When he said 
of species what Galileo had said of the earth, 
e pur s0 muove, he emancipated, once for all,! 
genetic and experimental ideas as an organon of 
asking questions and looking for explanations. 


The exact bearings upon philosophy of the j j l^ 
new logical outlook are, of course, as yet, un- 
certain and inchoate. ' We live in the twilight U ***J 
of intellectual transition. One must add the rash- 
ness of the prophet to the stubbornness of the 
partizan to venture a systematic exposition of 
the influence upon philosophy of the Darwinian 
method. - At best, we can but inquire as to its 
general bearing- — the effect upon mental temper - 
and complexion, upon that body of half-conscious, 
half-instinctive intellectual aversions and prefer- 
ences which determine, after all, our more de- 
liberate intellectual enterprises. In this vague in- 
quiry there happens to exist as a kind of touch- 
stone a problem of long historic currency that / 
has also been much discussed in Darwinian litera- 
ture. I refer to the old problem of design versus 
chance, mind versus matter, as the causal explana- 
tion, first or final, of things. 

As we have already seen, the classic notion of 


{/species carried with it the idea of purpose.)) In 
all living forms, a specific type is present directing 

; the earlier stages of growth to the realization of 

v its own perfection. Since this purposive regula- 
tive principle is not visible to the senses, it follows 
that it must be an ideal or rational force. Since, 
however, the perfect form is gradually approxi- 
mated through the sensible changes, it also follows 
that in and through a sensible realm a rational 
ideal force is working out its own ultimate mani- 
festation. These inferences were extended to 

I nature: (a) She does nothing in vain; but all for 
an ulterior purpose , (b) Within natural sensible 
events there is therefore contained a spiritual 
causal force, which as spiritual escapes perception, 
but is apprehended by an enlightened reason. 
(c) The manifestation of this principle brings 
about a subordination of matter and sense to its 
own realization, and this ultimate fulfilment is the 
goal of nature anchel^jgign. The design argu- 
ment thus operated in two directions. Purpose- 2 ^ 
fulness accounted for the intelligibility of nature I 
and the possibility of science, while the absolute/ 
or cosmic character of this purposefulness gave! 
sanction and worth to the moral and religious en- \ 
deavors of man. Science was underpinned and 
morals authorized by one and the same principle, 
and their mutual agreement was eternally guaran- 
teed. •• \y 


This philosophy remained, in spite of sceptical 
and polemic outbursts, the official andjthe regnant 
philosophy of Europe for over two thousand years. 
The expulsion of fixed first and final causes from 
astronomy, physics, and chemistry had indeed given 
the doctrine something of a shock. But, on the 
other hand, increased acquaintance with the de- 
tails of plant and animal life operated as a coun- 
terbalance and perhaps even strengthened the 
argument from design. The marvelous adapta- 
tions of organisms to their environment, of organs 
to the organism, of unlike parts of a complex 
organ — like the eye — to the organ itself ; the fore- 
shadowing by lower forms of the higher; the 
preparation in earlier stages of growth for or- 
gans that only later had their functioning — these 
things were increasingly recognized with the prog- 
ress of botany, zoology, paleontology, and embry- 
ology. Together, they added such prestige to the 
design argument that by the late eighteenth cen- 
tury it was, as approved by the sciences of or- 
ganic life, the central point of theistic and ideal- y/* 
istic philosophy. 

The Darwinian principle of natural selection ^* 
cut straight under this philosophy. If all organic 
adaptations are due simply to constant variation 
and the elimination of those variations which are 

• • # ' — 7 

harmful in the struggle for existence that is 
brought aoout by excessive reproduction, there 


is no call for a prior intelligent causal force to 
\ X 1 plan a nd preordai n them. Hostile critics charged 
L Darwin with materialism and with making chance 
the cause of the universe. 

Some naturalists, like Asa Gray, favored the 
Darwinian principle and attempted to reconcile 
it with design. Gray held to what may be called 
design on the installment plan." If we conceive 
the " stream of variations " to be itself intended, 
we may suppose that each successive variation was 
designed from the first to be selected. In that 
case, variation, struggle, and selection simply de- 
fine the mechanism of " secondary causes " through 
which the " first cause " acts ; and the doctrine 
of design is none the worse off because we know 
more of its modus operandi. 

Darwin could not accept this mediating pro- 
posal. He admits or rather he asserts that it 
is " impossible to conceive this immense and won- 
derful universe including man with his capacity 
of looking far backwards and far into futurity 
as the result of blind chance or necessity." 1 But 
4 nevertheless he holds that since variations are in 
useless as well as useful directions; and since the 
latter are sifted out simply by the stress of the 
conditions of struggle for existence, the design 
argument as applied to living beings is unjustifi- 
able; and its lack of support there deprives it 
1K Life and Letters," Vol. I., p. 2S2; cf. 285. 



of scientific value as applied to nature in general. 
If the variations of the pigeon, which under arti- 
ficial selection give the pouter pigeon, are not pre- 
ordained for the sake of the breeder, by what logic 
do we argue that variations resulting in natural 
^ species are pre-designed? x 


So much for some of the more obvious facts 
of the discussion of design versus chance, as causal 
principles of nature and of life as a whole. We 
brought up this discussion, you recall, as a crucial 
instance. What does our touchstone indicate as 
to the bearing of Darwinian ideas upon philoso- 
phy? In the first place, the new„ logic jptutlawjr, 
flanks, dismisses — what you will — one type of 
problems and substitutes for it another type. 
Philosophy forswears inquiry after absolute origins 
and absolute finalities in order to explore specific 
values and the specific conditions that ^generate 

Darwin concluded that the impossibility^ of 

assigning the world to chance as a whole and to 

design in its parts indicated the insolubility of 

the question. Two radically different reasons, 

lu Life and Letters," Vol. II., pp. 146, 170, 245; Vol. I., 
pp. 283*84. See also the closing portion of his " Variations' 
of Animals and Plants under Domestication." 


however, may be given as to why a problem is 
insoluble. One reason is that the problem is too 
high for intelligence ; the other is that the question 
in its very asking makes assumptions that render 
the question meaningless. The latter alternative 

' is unerringly pointed to in the celebrated case 
of design versus chance. Once admit that the sole 
verifiable or fruitful object of knowledge is the 
particular set of changes that generate the object 
of study together with the consequences that then 
flow from it, and no intelligible question can be 
asked about what, by assumption, lies outside. 
To assert — as is often asserted — that specific 

-values of particular truth, social bonds and forms 
of beauty, if they can be shown to be generated 
by concretely knowable conditions, are meaningless 
and in vain; to assert that they are justified only 
when they and their particular causes and effects 
have all at once been gathered up into some in- 
clusive first cause and some exhaustive final goal, 
is intellectual atavism. Such argumentation is re- 
version to the logic that explained the extinction 
of fire by water through the formal essence of 
aqueousness and the quenching of thirst by water 
through the final cause of aqueousness. Whether 
used in the case of the special event or that of 
life as a whole, such logic only abstracts some 
aspect of the existing course of events in order 
to reduplicate it as a petrified eternal principle 


by which to explain the very changes of which it 
is the formalization. 

When Henry Sidgwick casually remarked in a 
letter that as he grew older his interest in what 
or who made the_ wjojflfl was alt ered int o^in te rest 
in what kind of a world it is anyway, his voicing 
of a common experience of our own day illustrates 
also the nature of that intellectual transformation 
effected by the Darwinian logic. Interest shifts 
from the wholesale essence back of special changes 
to the question of how special changes serve and 
defeat concrete purposes; shifts from an intelli- 
gence that shaped things once for all to tfre ij 
particular intelligences which things are even now 
shaping; shifts from an ultimate goal of good to 
the direct increments of justice and happiness 
that intelligent administration of existent condi- 
tions may beget and that present carelessness or I 
stupidity will destroy or forego. 
/•JJ In the second place, the classic type of logic 
inevitably set philosophy upon proving that life 
must have certain qualities and values — no matter 
how experience presents the matter — because of 
some remote cause and eventual goal. The duty 
of wholesale justification inevitably accompanies all 
thinking that makes the meaning of special occur- 
rences depend upon something that once and for 
all lies behind them. The habit of derogating 
from present meanings and uses prevents pur look,- 


ing the facts of experience in the face ; it prevents 
serious acknowledgment of the evils they present 
and serious concern with the goods they promise 
but do not as yet fulfil. It turns thought to the 
business of finding a wholesale transcendent remedy 
for the one and guarantee for the other. One 
is reminded of the way many moralists and theo- 
logians greeted Herbert Spencer's recognition of 
an unknowable energy from which welled up the 
phenomenal physical processes without and the 
conscious operations within. Merely because 
Spencer labeled his unknowable energy " God," 
this faded piece of metaphysical goods was greeted 
as an important and grateful concession to the 
reality of the spiritual realm. Were it not for 
the deep hold of the habit of seeking justification 
for ideal values in the remote and transcendent, 
surely this reference of them to an unknowable 
absolute would be despised in comparison with the 
demonstrations of experience that knowable ener- 
gies are daily generating about us precious values. 
The displacing of this wholesale type of philos- 
ophy will doubtless not arrive by sheer logical dis- 
proof, but rather by growing recognition of its 
futility. Were it a thousand times true that 
opium produces sleep because of its dormitive en- 
ergy, yet the inducing of sleep in the tired, and the 
recovery to waking life of the poisoned, would not 
be thereby one least step forwarded. And were 



it a thousand times dialectically demonstrated that ' 
life as a whole is regulated by a transcendent prin- 
ciple to a final inclusive goal, none the less truth 
and error, health and disease, good and evil, hope 
and fear in the concrete, would remain just what 1 

and where they now are. To improve our edu- 
cation, to ameliorate our manners, to advance our; \^ 
politics, we must have recourse to specific condi-l 
tions of generation. • 

-. Finally, the new logic introduces responsibility | /. 
into the intellectual life. To idealize and ration- 
alize the universe at large is after all a confession 
of inability to master the courses of things that 
specifically concern us. As long as mankind suf- 
fered from this impotency, it naturally shifted a 
burden of responsibility that it could not carry 
over to the more competent shoulders of the trans- 
cendent cause. But if insight into specific con- 
ditions of value and into specific consequences of 
ideas is possible, philosophy must in time become 
a method of locating and interpreting the more 
serious of the conflicts that occur in life, and a ^t ( 
method of pro j ecting ways for dealing with them : 
a method of moral and political diagnosis and ( 

- prognosis. 

The claim to formulate a 'priori the legisla- 
tive constitution of the universe is by its nature 
a claim that may lead to elaborate dialectic de- 
velopments. But it is also one that removes 


these very conclusions from subjection to experi- 
mental test, for, by definition, these results make no ' 
differences in the detailed course of events. But 
a philosophy that humbles its pretensions to the 
work of projecting hypotheses for the education 
and conduct of mind, individual and social, is 
thereby subjected to test by the way in which the 
ideas it p ro pounds work out in j ractice. In hav- 
ing modesty forced upon it, philosophy also ac- 
quires responsibility. 

Doubtless I seem to have violated the implied 
promise of my earlier remarks and to have turned 
both prophet and partizan. But in anticipating 
the direction of the transformations in philosophy 
to be wrought by the Darwinian genetic and ex- 
perimental logic, I do not profess to speak for 
any save those who yield themselves consciously 
or unconsciously to this logic. No one can fairly 
deny that at present there are two effe cts of the 
Darwinian mode of thinking. On the one hand, \ y 
I there .are ^making many sincere and vital efforts^ , 
to revise our traditional philosophic conceptions 
in accordance with its demands. On the other 
hand, there is as definitely a recrudescence of 
absolutistic philosophies; an assertion of a type 
of philosophic knowing distinct from that of the 
sciences, one which opens to us another kind of 
reality from that to which the sciences give ac- 
cess; an appeal through experience to something 


that essentially goes beyond experience. This re- 
action affects popular creeds and religious move- 
ments as well as technical philosophies. The very 
conquest of the biological sciences by the new ideas 
has led many to proclaim an explicit and rigid 
separation of philosophy from science. 

Old ideas give way slowly; for they are more 
than abstract logical forms and categories. They 
are habits, predispositions, deeply engrained atti- 
tudes of aversion and preference. Moreover, the 
conviction persists — though history shows it to be 
a hallucination — that all the questions that the 
human mind has asked are questions that can be 
answered in terms of the alternatives that the ques- 
tions themselves present. But in fact intellectual 
progress usually occurs through sheer abandonment 
of questions together with both of the alternatives 
they assume — an abandonment that results from 
their decreasing vitality and a change of urgent 
interest. We do not solve them : we get over them. 
Old questions are solved by disappearing, evapo- 
rating, while new questions corresponding to the 
changed attitude of endeavor and preference take 
their place. Doubtless the greatest dissolvent in 
contemporary thought of old questions, the great- 
est precipitant of new methods, new intentions, new_ 
problems, is. the. one effected, by the scientific revo- 
lution that found its climax in the " Origin of I 


A GROUP of people are scattered near one 
another, on the sands of an ocean beach; 
wraps, baskets, etc., testify to a day's outing. 
Above the hum of the varied conversations are 
heard the mock sobs of one of the party. 

Various voices. What's the matter, Eaton? 

Eaton. Matter enough. I was watching a. 
beautiful wave ; its lines were perfect ; at its crest, 
the light glinting through its infinitely varied and 
delicate curves of foam made a picture more rav- 
ishing than any dream. And now it has gone; it 
will never come back. So I weep. 

Grimes. That's right, Eaton ; give it to them. 
Of course well-fed and well-read persons — with 
their possessions of wealth and of knowledge both 
gained at the expense of others — finally get bored ; 
then they wax sentimental over their boredom and 
are worried about " Nature " and its relation to 
life. Not everybody takes it out that way, of 
course; some take motor cars and champagne for 
that tired feeling. But the rest — those who aren't 

1 Reprinted from the Hibbert Journal, Vol. VII., No. 4, 
July, 1909. 



in that class financially, or who consider themselves 
too refined for that kind of relief — seek a new 
sensation in speculating why that brute old world 
out there will not stand for what you call spiritual 
and ideal values — for short, your egotisms. 

The fact is that the whole discussion is only a 
symptom of the leisure class disease. If you had 
to work to the limit and beyond, to keep soul and 
body together, and, more than that, to keep alive 
the soul of your family in its body, you would 
know the difference between your artificial prob- 
lems and the genuine problem of life. Your philo- 
sophic problems about the relation of " the uni- 
verse to moral and spiritual good " exist only in 
the sentimej^alism that generates them. The gen- 
uine question is why social arrangements will not 
permit the amply sufficient body of natural re- 
sources to sustain all men and women in security 
and decent comfort, with a margin for the culti- 
vation of their human instincts of sociability, love 
of knowledge and of art. 

As I read Plato, philosophy began with some 
sense of its essentially political basis and mission — 
a recognition that its problems were those of the 
organization of a just social order. But it soon 
got lost in dreams of another world ; and even those 
of you philosophers who pride yourselves on being 
so advanced that you no longer believe in " an- 
other world," are still living and thinking with 


reference to it. You may not call it supernatural ; 
but when you talk about a realm of spiritual or 
ideal values in general, and ask about its relation 
to Nature in general, you have only changed the 
labels on the bottles, not the contents in them. 
Forj ghat makes anything transcendental — that is, 
in common langua g e, supe rnatural — is simply a nd 
o nly aloofn es s from practical affairs — whi ch af- 
7alrs^n_yieir_iiltimate analy sis are the busi ness of 
m aking a l iving. 

Eaton. Yes ; Grimes has about hit off the point 
of my little parable — in one of its aspects at least. 
In matters of daily life you say a man is " off," 
more or less insane, when he deliberately goes on 
looking for a certain kind of result from condi- 
tions which he has already found to be such that 
they cannot possibly yield it. If he keeps on look- 
ing, and then goes about mourning because stage 
money won't buy beefsteaks, or because he can- 
not keep himself warm by burning the sea-sands 
here, you dismiss him as a fool or a hysteric. If 
you would condescend to reason with him at all, you 
would tell him to look for the conditions that will 
yield the results; to occupy himself with some of 
th e countless goodsof l ife_ for which, by intelli- 
ge ntly directed search, adequate means may be 
f ound. 

Well, before lunch, Moore was reiterating the 
old tale. " Modern science has completely trans- 

formed our conceptionsofNature. J[t has s tripped 

the universe bare not only of all the moral values 
which it wore alike to antique pagan and to our 
medieval ancestors, but also of any regard, any 
preferencjvfpxJJUxJLjalum. They are mere inci- 
dents, transitory accidents, in her everlasting re- 
distribution of matter in motion ; like the rise and 
fall of the wave I lament, or like a single musical 
note that a screeching, rumbling railway train 
might happen to emit." This is a one-sided view ; 
but suppose it were all so, what is the moral? 
Surely , to change our standpoint, our angle of 
visi on; to stop looking for results among condi- 
tio ns that we know will not yield them ; to turn our 
gaze to the goods, the values that exist actually 
and indubitabl y in exp erience; and consider by 
what natural conditio ns these particular values 
ma y be strengthened and jffidpned. 

Insist, if you please, that Nature as a whole 
i does not stand for good as a whole. Then, in 
heaven's name, just because good is both so plural 
(so " numerous ") and so partial, bend ypur_ener- 
gies of intelligence and of effort to selecting the 
specfficplural and partial natural conditions which 
wih*~at least render valu es tha tj yre J 7lc^TTa^"lnore 
secure and more extensive. Any other course is 
the way" of madness ; it is the way of the spoilt 
child who cries at the seashore because the waves 
do not stand still, and who cries even more f ranti- 


cally in the mountains because the hills do not melt 
and flow. 

But no. Moore and his school will not have it 
so : we must " go back of the returns." All this 
science, after all, is a mode of knowledge. Ex- 
amine knowledge itself and find it implies a com- 
plete all-inclusive intelligence; and then find (by 
taking another tack) that intelligence involves 
sentiency, feeling, and also will. Hence your very 
physical science, if you will only criticise it, ex- 
amine it, shows that its object, mechanical nature, 
is itself an included and superseded element in an 
all-embracing spiritual and ideal whole. And there 
you are. 

Well, I do not now insist that all this is mere 
dialectic prestidigitation. No ; accept it ; let it go 
at its face value. But what of it? Is any value 
more concretely and securely in life than it was 
before? Does this perfect intelligence enable us 
to correct one single mis-step, one paltry error, 
here and now? Does this perfect all-inclusive 
goodness serve to heal one disease ? Does it rectify 
one trangression ? Does it even give the slightest 
inkling of how to go to work at any of these 
things? No; it just tells you: Never mind, for 
they are already eternally corrected, eternally 
healed in the eternal consciousness which alone is 
really Real. Stop: there is one evil, one pain, 
which the doctrine mitigates — the hysteric senti- 


mentalism which is troubled because the universe 
as a whole does not sustain good as a whole. But 
that is the only thing it alters. The " pathetic 
fallacy " of Ruskin magnified to the wth power is 
the motif of modern idealism. 

Moore. Certainly nobody will accuse Eaton of 
tender-mindedness — except in his logic, which, as 
certainly, is not tough-minded. His excitement, 
however, convinces me that he has at least an ink- 
ling that he is begging the question ; and like the 
true pragmatist that he is, is trying to prevent 
by action (to wit, his flood of speech) his false 
logic from becoming articulate to him. The ques- 
tion being whether the values we seem to appre- 
hend, the purposes we entertain, the goods we pos- 
sess, are anything more than transitory waves, 
Eaton meets it by saying : " Oh, of course, they 
are waves; but don't think about that — just sit 
down hard on the wave or get another wave to but- 
tress it with ! " No wonder he recommends action 
instead of thinking! Men have tried this method 
before, as a counsel of desperation or as cynical 
pessimism. But it remained for contemporary 
pragmatism to label the drowning of sorrow in the 
intoxication of thoughtless action, the highest 
achievement of philosophic method, and to preach 
wilful restlessness as a doctrine of hope and illu- 
mination. Meantime, I prefer to be tender-minded 
in my attitude toward Reality, and to make 


that attitude more reasonable by a tough-minded 

Eaton. I am willing to be quiet long enough 
for you to translate your metaphor into logic, and 
show how I have begged the question. 

Moore. It is plain enough. You bid us turn 
to the cultivation, the nurture, of certain values 
in human life. But the question is whether these 
are or are not values. And that is a question of 
their relation to the Universe — to Reality. If 
Reality substantiates them, then indeed they are 
values; if it mocks and flouts them — as it surely 
does if what mechanical science calls Nature be 
ultimate and absolute — then they are not values. 
You and your kind are really the sentimentalists, 
because you are sheer subjectivists. You say : Ac- 
cept the dream as real ; do not question about it ; 
add a little iridescence to its fog and extend it 
till it obscure even more of Reality than it natu- 
rally does, and all is well! I say: Perhaps the 
dream is no dream but an intimation of the 
solidest and most ultimate of all realities; and a 
thorough examination of what the positivist, the 
materialist, accepts as solid, namely, science, re- 
veals as its own aim, standard, and presupposi- 
tion that Reality is one all-exhaustive spiritual 
\ <!*>>? Eaton. This is about the way I thought my 
7 begging of the question would turn out. You in- 


sist upon translating my position into terms of M 
your own ; I am not then surprised to hear that it 
would be a begging of the question for you to hold 
my views. My point is precisely that it is only 
as long as you take the position that some Reality 
beyond — some metaphysical or transcendental real- 
ity — is necessary to substantiate empirical values 
that you can even discuss whether the latter are 
genuine or illusions. Drop the presupposition that 
you read into everything I say, the idea that the 
reality of things as they are is dependent upon some- 
thing beyond and behind, and the facts of the case 
just stare you in the eyes: Goods are, a multitude 
of them — but, unfortunately, evils also are; and 
all grades, pretty much, of both. Not the con- 
trast and relation of experience in toto to some- 
thing beyond experience drives men to religion and 
then to philosophy; but the contrast withm ex- 
perience of the better and the worse, and the con- 
sequent problem of how to substantiate the former 
and reduce the latter. Until you set up the no- 
tion of a transcendental reality at large, you can- 
not even raise the question of whether goods and 
evils are, or only seem to be. The trouble and the 
joy, the good and the evil, is that they are; the 
hope is that they may be regulated, guided, in- 
creased in one direction and minimized in another. 
Instead of neglecting thought, we (I mean the 
pragmatists) exalt it, because we say that intelli- 


gent discrimination of means and ends is the sole 
final resource in this problem of all problems, the 
control of the factors of good and ill in life. We 
say, indeed, not merely that that is what intelli- 
gence does, but rather what it is. 

Historically, it is quite possible to show how 
under certain social conditions this human and 
practical problem of the relation of good and in- 
telligence generated the notion of the transcen- 
dental good and the pure reason. As Grimes re- 
minded us, Plato 

Moore. Yes, and Protagoras — don't forget 
him; for unfortunately we know both the origin 
and the consequences of your doctrine that being 
and seeming are the same. We know quite well 
that pure empiricism leads to the identification 
of being and seeming, and that is just why every 
deeply moral and religious soul from the time of 
Plato and Aristotle to the present has insisted upon 
a transcendent reality. 

Eaton. Personally I don't need an absolute to 
enable me to distinguish between, say, the good 
of kindness and the evil of slander, or the good of 
health and the evil of valetudinarianism. In ex- 
perience, things bear their own specific characters. 
Nor has the absolute idealist as yet answered the 
question of how the absolute reality enables him 
to distinguish between being and seeming in one 
single concrete case. The trouble is that for him 


all Being is on the other side of experience, and all 
experience is seeming. 

Grimes, I think I heard you mention history. 
I wish both of you would drop dialectics and go 
to history. You would find history to be a strug- 
gle for existence — for bread, for a roof, for pro- 
tected and nourished offspring. You would find 
history a picture of the masses always going 
under — just missing — in the struggle, because 
others have captured the control of natural re- 
sources, which in themselves, if not as benign as 
the eighteenth century imagined, are at least abun- 
dantly ample for the needs of all. But because of 
the monopolization of Nature by a few persons, 
most men and women only stick their heads above 
the welter just enough to catch a glimpse of better 
things, then to be shoved down and under. The 
only problem of the relation of Nature to human 
good which is real is the economic problem of the 
exploitation of natural resources in the equal in- 
terests of all, instead of in the unequal interests 
of a class. The problem you two men are discuss- 
ing has no existence — and never had any — outside 
of the heads of a few metaphysicians. The latter 
would never have amounted to anything, would 
never have had any career at all, had not shrewd 
monopolists or tyrants (with the skill that charac- 
terizes them) have seen that these speculations 
about reality and a transcendental world could be 


distilled into opiates and distributed among the 
masses to make them less rebellious. That, if you 
would know, Eaton, is the real historic origin of 
the ideal world beyond. When you realize that, 
you will perceive that the pragmatists are only 
half-way over. You will see that practical ques- 
tions are practical, and are not to be solved merely 
by having a theory about theory different from 
the traditional one — which is all your pragmatism 
comes to. 

Moore. If you mean that your own crass Phi- 
listinism is all that pragmatism comes to, I fancy 
you are about right. Forget that the only end of 
action is to bring about an approximation to the 
complete inclusive consciousness; make, as the 
pragmatists do, consciousness a means to action, 
and one form of external activity is just as good as 
another. Art, religion, all the generous reaches 
of science which do not show up immediately in 
the factory — these things become meaningless, and 
all that remains is that hard and dry satisfaction 
of economic wants which is Grimes's ideal. 

Grimes. An ideal which exists, by the way, only 
in your imagination. I know of no more convinc- 
ing proof of the futile irrelevancy of idealism than 
the damning way in which it narrows the content 
of actual daily life in the minds of those who up- 
hold idealism. I sometimes think I am the only 
true idealist. If the conditions of an equitable and 


ample physical existence for all were once secured, 
I, for one, have no fears as to the bloom and harvest 
of art and science, and all the " higher " things of 
leisure. Life is interesting enough for me; give 
it a show for all. 

Arthur, I find myself in a peculiar position in 
respect to this discussion. An analysis of what 
is involved in this peculiarity may throw some light 
on the points at issue, for I have to believe that 
analysis and definition of what exists is the essen- 
tial matter both in resolution of doubts and in 
steps at reform. For brevity, not from conceit, 
I will put the peculiarity to which I refer in a 
personal form. I do not believe for a moment in 
some different Reality beyond and behind Nature. 
I do not believe that a manipulation of the logical 
implications of science can give results which are 
to be put in the place of those which Science herself 

(yields in her direct application. I accept Nature 
as something which is, not seems, and Science as 
her faithful transcript. Yet because I believe 
these things, not in spite of them, I believe in the 
existence of purpose and of good. How Eaton can 
believe that fulfilment and the inc reasing reahza^ 
tiqnlpiLj)urpo,se.^an exist in human consciousness 
unless theyi^r^lLexisTinthe wofTa r whichis revealed 
in that rrmsrMm^ppss i^sjriTT?K"gp yond me as how 
Moore can believe that a manipulation of the 
method of knowledge can yield considerations of a 


totally different order from those directly obtained 
by use of the method. If purpose and fulfilment 
exist as natural goods, then, and only then, can 
consciousness itself be a fulfilment of Nature, and 
be also a natural good. Any other view is inex- 
plicable to sound thinking — save, historically, as a 
product of modern political individualism and lit- 
erary romanticism which have combined to produce 
that idealistic philosophy according to which the 
mind in knowing the universe creates it. 

The view that purpose and realization are pro- 
foundly natural, and that consciousness — or, if 
you will, experience — is itself a culmination and 
climax of Nature, is not a new view. Formulated 
by Aristotle, it has always persisted wherever the 
traditions of sound thinking have not been ob- 
scured by romanticism. The m odern scientific d oc- 
trine of evolution con firm^* ana specifies the meta- 
physical insight of Aristotle. This d octrine set s 
forth in detail, and in verified detajlTlis a genuine 
cha racteristic^of existence, the tendency toward 
cumulative results, the defini te trend of things to- 
ward r ^uTmlnation and achievement. It describes 
t he^univ e rs e~aTpossessing, in terms~of and by right 
of its own subject-matter (not as an addition of 
subsequent reflection), differences of value and im- 
portance — differences, moreover, that exercise se- 
lective influence upon the course of things, that is 
to say, genuinely determine the events that occur. 


It tells us that consciousness itself is such a cumu- 
lative and culminating natural event. Hence it is 
relevant to the world in which it dwells, and its 
determinations of value are not arbitrary, not obi- 
ter dicta, but descriptions of Nature herself. 

Recall the words of Spencer which Moore quoted 
this morning : " There is no pleasure in the con- 
sciousness of being an infinitesimal bubble on a 
globe that is infinitesimal compared with the total- 
ity of things. Those on whom the unpi tying rush 
of changes inflicts sufferings which are often with- 
out remedy, find no consolation in the thought that 
they are at the mercy of blind forces, — which cause 
indifferently now the destruction of a sun and now 
the death of an animalcule. Contemplation of a 
universe which is without conceivable beginning or 
end and without intelligible purpose, yields no satis- 
faction." I am naive enough to believe that the 
only question is whether the object of our " con- 
sciousness," of our " thought," of our " contempla- 
tion," is or is not as the quotation states it to be. 
If the statement be correct, pragmatism, like sub- 
jectivism (of which I suspect it is only a variation, 
putting emphasis upon will instead of idea), is an 
invitation to close our eyes to what is, in order to 
encourage the delusion that things are other than 
they are. But the case is not so desperate. Speak- 
ing dogmatically, the account given of the uni- 
verse is just — not true. And the doctrine of evo- 


ution of which Spencer professedly made so much 
s the evidence. A universe describable in evolu- 
;ionary terms is a universe which shows, not indeed 
design, but tendency and purpose; which exhibits 
achievement, not indeed of a single end, but of a 
nultiplicity of natural goods at whose apex is con- 
sciousness. No account of the universe in terms 
merely of the redistribution of matter in motion is 
omplete, no matter how true as far as it goes, for 
it ignores the cardinal fact that the character of 
matter in motion and of its redistribution is such 
as cumulatively to achieve ends — to effect the 
world of values we know. Deny this and you deny 
evolution; admit it and you admit purpose in the 
only objective — that is, the only intelligible — sense 
of that term. I do not say that in addition to the 
mechanism there are other ideal causes or factors 
which intervene. I only insist that the whole story 
be told, that the character of the mechanism be 
noted — namely, that it is such as to produce and 
sustain good in a multiplicity of forms. Mechan- 
ism is the mechanism of achieving results. To ig- 
nore this is to refuse to open our eyes to the total 
aspects of existence. 

Among these multiple natural goods, I repeat, is 
consciousness itself. One of the ends in which Na- 
ture genuinely terminates is just awareness of it- 
self — of its processes and ends. For note the im- 
plication as to why consciousness is a natural good ; 


not because it is cut off and exists in isolation, nor 
yet because we may, pragmatically, cut off and 
cultivate certain values which have no existence be- 
yond it ; but because it is good that things should 
be known in their own characters. And this view 
carries with it a precious result : to know things as 
they are is to know them as culminating in con- 
sciousness ; it is to know that the universe genuinely 
achieves and maintains its own self -manifestation. 

A final word as to the bearing of this view upon 
Grimes's position. To conceive of human history 
as a scene of struggle of classes for domination, a 
struggle caused by love of power or greed for gain, 
is the very mythology of the emotions. What we 
call history is largely non-human, but so far as it 
is human, it is dominated by intelligence: hi story %jrp 
is the history of.Jner £asing consciou sness. Not 
that intelligence is actually sovereign in life, but 
that at least it is sovereign over stupidity, error, 
and ignorance. The acknowledgment of things as 
they are — that is the causal source of every step 
in progress. Our present system of industry is not 
the product of greed or tyrannic lust of power, 
but of physical science giving the mastery over the 
mechanism of Nature's energy. If the existing 
system is ever displaced, it will be displaced not 
by good intentions and vague sentiments, but by a 
more extensive insight into Nature's secrets. 

Modern sentimentalism is revolted at the frank 


naturalism of Aristotle in saying that some are 
slaves by nature and others free by nature. But 
Jv let socialism come to-morrow and somebody — not 
anybody, but somebody — will be managing its ma- 
chinery and somebody else will be managed by the 
machinery. I do not wonder that my socialistic 
friends always imagine themselves active in the first 
capacity — perhaps by way of compensation for 
doing all of the imagining and none of the executive 
management at present. But those who are man- 
aged, who are controlled, deserve at least a mo- 
ment's attention. Would you not at once agree 
that if there is any justice at all in these positions 
of relative inferiority and superiority, it is because 
those who are capable by insight deserve to rule, 
and those who are incapable on account of igno- 
rance, deserve to be ruled? If so, how do you dif- 
fer, save verbally, from Aristotle? 

Or do you think that all that men want in order 
to be men is to have their bellies filled, with assur- 
ance of constant plenty and without too much ante- 
cedent labor? >^^eliev^jne,__frrim p,y-men~-«gg 
men, and henc e the irj ispiration is for the-^diyine — 
e ven whe n they know _it not ; their dpsire is fox_the 
ruling eleme nt, for intelligence. Till they achieve 
tfiat they~will still be discontented, rebellious, un- 
ruly — and hence ruled — shuffle your social cards 
as much as you may. 

Grimes (after shrugging his shoulders contempt- 


uously, finally says): There is one thing I like 
about Arthur: he is frank. He comes out with 
what you in all your hearts really believe — theory, 
supreme and sublime. All is to the good in this 
best of all possible worlds, if only some one be 
defining and classifying and syllogizing, accord- 
ing to the lines already laid down. Aristotle's God 
of pure intelligence (as he well knew) was the 
glorification of leisure ; and Arthur's point of view, 
if Arthur but knew it, is as much the intellectual 
snobbery of a leisure class economy, as the luxury 
and display he condemns are its material snobbery. 
There is really nothing more to be said. 

Moore. To get back into the game which 
Grimes despises. Doesn't Arthur practically say 
that the universe is good because it culminates in 
intelligence, and that intelligence is good because 
it perceives that the universe culminates in — itself? 
And, on this theory, are ignorance and error, 
and consequent evil, any less genuine achieve- 
ments of Nature than intelligence and good? 
And on what basis does he call by the titles of 
achievement and end that which at best is an 
| infinitesimally fragmentary and transitory epi- 
sode? I said Eaton begged the question. Arthur 
seems to regard it as proof of a superior intelli- 
gence (one which realistically takes things as they 
are) to beg the question. What is this Nature, 
this universe in whiclfevil p as stubborn a fact as 


good, in which good is constantly destroyed by the 
very power that produces it, in which there re- 
sides a temporary bird of passage — consciousness 
doomed to ultimate extinction — what is such a Na- 
ture (all that Arthur offers us) save the problem, 
the contradiction originally in question? A com- 
placent optimism may gloss over its intrinsic self- 
contradictions, but a more serious mind is forced to 
go behind and beyond this scene to a permanent 
good which includes and transcends goods defeated 
and hopes suborned. Not because idealists have 
refused to note the facts as they are, but precisely 
because Nature is, on its face, such a scene as 
Arthur describes, idealists have always held that it 
is but Appearance, and have attempted to mount 
through it to Reality. 

Stair. I had not thought to say anything. My 
attitude is so different from that of any one of 
you that it seemed unnecessary to inject another 
varying opinion where already disagreement reigns. 
But when Arthur was speaking, I felt that perhaps 
this disagreement exists precisely because the solv- 
ent word had not been uttered. For, at bottom, 
all of you agree with Arthur, and that is the cause 
of your disagreement with him and one another. 
You have agreed to make reason, intellect in some 
sense, the final umpire. But reason, intellect, is 
the principle of analysis, of division, of discord. 
When I appeal to feeling as the ultimate organ 


of unity, and hence of truth, you smile courteously ; 
say — or think — mysticism; and the case for you 
is dismissed. Words like feeling, sensation, imme- 
diate appreciation, self-communication of Being, 
I must indeed use when I try to tell the truth I see. 
But I well know how inadequate the words are. 
And why? Because language is the chosen tool 
of intelligence, and hence inevitably bewrayeth the 
truth it would convey. But remember that words 
are but symbols, and that intelligence must dwell 
in the realm of symbols, and you realize a way out. 
These words, sensation, feeling, etc., as I utter 
them are but invitations to woo you to put your- 
selves into the one attitude that reveals truth — 
an attitude of direct vision. 

The beatific vision? Yes, and No. No, if you 
mean something rare, extreme, almost abnormal. 
Yes, if you mean the commonest and most convinc- 
ing, the only convincing self-impartation of the ul- 
timate good in the scale of goods; the vision of 
blessedness in God. For this doctrine is empirical ; 
mysticism is the heart of all positive empiricism, 
of all empiricism which is not more interested in 
denying rationalism than in asserting itself. The 
mystical experience marks every man's realization 
of the supremacy of good, and hence measures the 
distance that separates him from pure materialism. 
And since the unmitigated materialist is the rarest 
of creatures, and the man with faith in an unseen 


good the commonest, every man is a mystic — and 
the most so in his best moments. 

What an idle contradiction that Moore and Ar- 
thur should try to adduce proofs of the supremacy 
of ideal values in the universe ! The sole possible 
proof is the proof that actually exists — the direct 
unhindered realization of those values. For each 
value brings with it of necessity its own depth of 
being. Let the pride of intellect and the pride of 
will cease their clamor, and in the silences Being 
speaks its own final word, not an argument or ex- 
ternal ground of belief, but the self-impartation of 
itself to the soul. Who are the prophets and 
teachers of the ages? Those who have been ac- 
cessible at the greatest depths to these communica- 

Grimes. I suppose that poverty — and possibly 
disease — are specially competent ministers to the 
spiritual vision? The moral is obvious. Economic 
changes are purely irrelevant, because purely ma- 
terial and external. Indeed, upon the whole, ef- 
forts at reform are undesirable, for they distract 
attention from the fact that the final thing, the 
vision of good, is totally disconnected from ex- 
ternal circumstance. I do not say, Stair, you per- 
sonally believe this ; but is not such a quietism the 
logical conclusion of all mysticism? 

Stair. This is not so true as to say that in your 
efforts at reform you are really inspired by the 


divine vision of justice; and' '{pat this mystic vision 
and not the mere increase of quantity of eatables 
and drinkables is your animating; motive. 

Grimes. Well, to my mind this whole affair of 
mystical values and experiences comes down to a 
simple straight-away proposition. The submerged 
masses do not occupy themselves with such ques- 
tions as those you are discussing. They haven't 
the time even to consider yhether they want to 
consider them. Nor does tie occasional free citi- 
zen who even now exists — a ^sporadic reminder and 
prophecy of ultimate democracy — bother himself 
about the relation of the cfosmos to value. Why? 
Not from mystic insight any more than from meta- 
physical proof ; but beca/ase he has so many other 
interests that are worth while. His friends, his 
vocation and avocations, his books, his music, his 
club — these things engage him and they reward 
him. To multiply such -men with such interests — 
that is the genuine problem, I repeat; and it is a 
problem to be solved onk' through an economic and 
material redistribution. 

Eaton. Gladly, Sta?\r, do all of us absolve our- 
selves from the responsibility of having to create 
the goods that life— I call it God or Nature or 
Chance — provides. Fmt we cannot, if we would, 
absolve ourselves frorti responsibility for maintain- 
ing and extending J:hese goods when they have 
happened. To find :it very wonderful — as Arthur 


does— that intelFigence perceives values as they are 
is trivial, for it is« only an elaborate way of saying 
that they happened. To invite us, ceasing 
struggle and effort., to commune with Being through 
the moments of insrght and joy that life provides, 
is to bid us to self-indulgence — to enjoyment at 
the expense of those upon whom the burden of con- 
ducting life's affair*? falls. For even the mystics 
still need to eat and drink, be clothed and housed, 
and somebody must do these unmystic things. And 
to ignore others in the interest of our own perfec- 
tion is not conducive to genuine unity of Being. 

Intelligence is, indeed, as you say, discrimina- 
tion, distinction. But why? Because we have to 
act in order to keep secure amid the moving flux 
of circumstance, some sligM but precious good that 
Nature has bestowed ; and because, in order to act 
successfully, we must act after conscious selection 

1 — after discrimination of means and ends. Of 
course, all goods arrive, as Arthur says, as natural 
results, but so do all bads, and all grades of good 
and bad. To label the results that occur culmina- 
tions, achievements, and then argue to a quasi- 

! moral constitution of Nature because she effects 
such results, is to employ a logic which applies to 
the life-cycle of the germ th,at, in achieving itself, 
kills man with malaria, as wejll as to the process of 
human life that in reaching its fullness cuts short 
the germ-fulfilment. It is putting the cart before 


the horse to say that because Nature is so consti- 
tuted as to produce results of all types of value, 
therefore Nature is actuated by regard for differ- 
ences of value. >^{ature, till it produces a being 
who strives and who thinks in order that he may 
strive more effectively, does not know whether it 
cares more for justice or for cruelty, more for the 
ravenous wolf-like competition of the struggle for 
existence, or for the improvements incidentally in- 
troduced through that struggle, laterally it-4ias 
nornind of itsjiwj^ Nor would the mere intro- 
duction oT a consciousness that pictured indiffer- 
ently the scene out of which consciousness devel- 
oped, add one iota of reason for attributing eulo- 
gistically to Nature regard for value. But when 
the sentient organism, having experienced natural 
values, good and bad, begins to select, t o prefer, 
and to makehat tk for its p reference ; and in order 
thatr^FTnaymake the most gallant fight po ssible 
pidgs~^lir^and gathers togethe r in perception 
and~tKougEt w hat is fav orabl e tn its aims and 
what"^TosHIeTT^n^a nd there Nature has at last 
achlevelTiignTficlint re gard for good. And this is 
the Mi ne th ii ig~a^TThe T)irt h of intelligence. For 
the4ioMing an end in view and the selecting and or- 
ganizing out of the natural flux, on the basis of 
this end, conditions that are means, is intelligence. 
Not, then, when Nature produces health or effi- 
ciency or complexity does Nature exhibit regard 


for value, but only when it produces a living organ- 
ism that has settled preferences and endeavors. 
The mere happening of complexity, health, adjust- 
ment, is all that Nature effects, as rightly called 
accident as purpose. But when Nature pro- 
duces an intelligence — ah, then, indeed Nature has 
achieved something. Not, however, because this in- 
telligence impartially pictures the nature which 
has produced it, but because in human conscious- 
ness Nature becomes genuinely partial. Because 
in consciousness jui_endJs_pr^e^reo%Js_sejecteiLfbr 
majntenance ^and be cause inielliggn cfi pictures no t 

kjvmr]rt jnst. fj$ j\ ( jsjra tntr^ frnt. jmpges fqttfethe 
conditions a nd obstacles of the continued main te- 
n ance of th e__sel ented go od. For in an experience 
where values are demonstrably precarious, an in- 
telligence that is not a principle of emphasis and 
valuation (an intelligence which defines, describes, 
and classifies merely for the sake of knowledge,) is 
a principle of stupidity and catastrophe. 

As for Grimes, it is indeed true that problems 
are solved only where they arise — namely, in ac- 
tion, in the adjustments of behavior. But, for 
good or for evil, they can be solved there only with 
method ; and ultimately method is intelligence, and 
intelligence is method. The larger, the more hu- 
man, the less technical the problem of practice, the 
more open-eyed and wide-viewing must be the cor- 
responding method. I do not say that all things 


that have been called philosophy participate in this 
method ; I do sa,j»JiQiEeve r^ that a catholic a n d far - 
sighted theory of the-iidjusbnent of the conflicting 
I factofs^of li£e-i« — wharte¥e4^4t-Jbe_c^ed-rrphiloso- 
phy. And unless technical philosophy is to go the 
way of dogmatic theology, it must loyally identify 
itself with such a view of its own aim and destiny. 


Tjl XCEPT the blind forces of nature," said 
■*-* Sir Henry Maine, " n othing move s in this 
_jrorlij»4ttch-~i«^iot Greek in its origin." jJncTif 
we ask why this is so, the response comes that the 
Greek discovered the business of man to be pursuit 
of good, and intelligence to be central in this quest. 
The utmost to be said in praise of Plato and Aris- 
totle is not that they invented excellent moral the- 
ories, but that they rose to the opportunity which 
the spectacle of Greek life afforded. For Athens 
presented an all but complete microcosm for the 
study of the interaction of social organization and 
individual character. A public life of rich diver- 
sity in concentrated and intense splendor trained 
the civic sense. Strife of faction and the rapid 
oscillations of types of polity provided the occasion 
for intellectual inquiry and analysis. The careers 
of dramatic personalities, habits of discussion, ease 
of legislative change, facilities for personal ambi- 

1 A public lecture delivered at Columbia University in 
March, 1908, under the title of "Ethics," in a series of 
lectures on " Science, Philosophy, and Art." Reprinted 
from a monograph published by the Columbia University 



tions, distraction by personal rivalries, fixed atten- 
tion upon the elements of character, and upon con- 
sideration of the effect of individual character on 
social vitality and stability. Happy exemption 
from ecclesiastic preoccupations, susceptibility to 
natural harmony, and natural piety conspired with 

| frank and open observation to acknowledgment of 
the role played by natural conditions. Social in- 
stability and shock made equally pertinent and ob- 
vious the remark that only intelligence can confirm 
the values that natural conditions generate, and 
that intelligence is itself nurtured and matured 
only in a free and stable society. 

In Plato the , resultant analysis of the mutual 
implications of the individual, the social and the 
natural, converged in the ideas that morals and 

- philosophy are one : namely, a love of that wisdom 
which is the source of secure and social good ; that 
mathematics and the natural sciences focused upon 

e the problem of the perception of the good furnish 
the materials of moral science; that logic is the 
method of the pregnant organization of social con- 

m ditions with respect to good ; that politics and psy- 
chology are sciences of one and the same human 
nature, taken first in the large and then in the 
little. So far that large and expansive vision of 

But projection of a better life must be based 
upon reflection of the life already lived. The in- 


evitable limitations of the Greek city-state were in- 
evitably wrought into the texture of moral theory. 

The business of thought was to furnish a sub- 
stitute for customs which were then relaxing from 
the pressure of contact and intercourse without 
and the friction of strife within. Reason was to 
take the place of custom as a guide of life ; but it 
was to furnish rules as final, as unalterable as those 
of custom. In short, the thinkers were fascinated 
by the afterglow of custom. They took for their 
own ideal the distillation from custom of its essence 
— ends and laws which should be rigid and invari- 
able. Thus Morals was set upon the track which 
it dared not leave for nigh twenty-five hundred 
years : searclr for the final good, and for the single 
moral force. 

Aristotle's assertions that the state exists by na- 
ture, and that in the state alone does the individual 
achieve independence and completeness of life, are 
indeed pregnant sayings. But as uttered by Aris- 
totle they meant that, in an isolated state, the 
Greek city-state, set a garlanded island in the 
waste sea />f barbaroi, a community indifferent 
when not hostile to all other social groupings, in- 
dividuals attain their full end. In a social unity 
which signified social contraction, contempt, and 
antagonism, in a social order which despised inter- 
course and glorified war, is realized the life of 
excellence ! 


There is likewise a profound saying of Aristotle's 
that the individual who otherwise than by accident 
is not a member of a state is either a brute or a 
god. But it is generally forgotten that elsewhere 
Aristotle identified the highest excellence, the chief 
virtue, with pure thought, and identifying this with 
the divine, isolated it in lonely grandeur from the 
life of society. That man, so far as in him lay, 
should be godlike, meant that he should be non- 
social, because supra-civic. Plato the idealist had 
shared the belief that reason is the divine ; but he 
was also a reformer and a radical and he would 
have those who attained rational insight descend 
again into the civic cave, and in its obscurity labor 
patiently for the enlightenment of its blear-eyed 
inhabitants. Aristotle, the conservative and the 
definer of what is, gloried in the exaltation of in- 
telligence in man above civic excellence and social 
need ; and thereby isolated the life of truest knowl- 
edge from contact with social experience and from 
responsibility for discrimination of values in the 
course of life. 

Moral theory, however, accepted from social cus- 
tom more than its cataleptic rigidity, its exclusive 
area of common good, and its unfructified and irre- 
sponsible reason. The city-state was a superficial 
layer of cultured citizens, cultured through a par- 
ticipation in affairs made possible by relief from 
economic pursuits, superimposed upon the dense 


mass of serfs, artizans, and laborers. For this di- 
j vision, moral philosophy made itself spiritual spon- 
sor, and thus took it up into its own being. Plato 
wrestled valiantly with the class problem; but his 
outcome was the necessity of decisive demarcation, 
after education, of the masses in whom reason was 
asleep and appetite much awake, from the few who 
were fit to rule because alertly wise. The most 
generously imaginative soul of all philosophy could 
not far outrun the institutional practices of his 
people and his times. This might have warned his 
successors of the danger of deserting the sober 
path of a critical discernment of the better and the 
worse within contemporary life for the more ex- 
citing adventure of a final determination of abso- 
lute good and evil. It might have taught the prob- 
• ability that some brute residuum or unrationalized 
social habit would be erected into an apotheosis of 
pure reason. But the lesson was not learned. 
Aristotle promptly yielded to the besetting sin of 
all philosophers, the idealization of the existent : he 
declared that the class distinctions of superiority 
and inferiority as between man and woman, master 
and slave, liberal-minded and base mechanic, exist 
and are justified by nature — a nature which aims 
at embodied reason. 

What, finally, is this Nature to which the philos- 
ophy of society and the individual so bound itself? 
It is the nature which figures in Greek customs 


and myth; the nature resplendent and adorned 
which confronts us in Greek poetry and art: the 
animism of savage man purged of grossness and 
generalized by unerring esthetic taste into beauty 
and system. The myths had told of the loves and 
hates, the caprices and desertions of the gods, 
and behind them all, inevitable Fate. Philosophy 
translated these tales into formula? of the brute 
fluctuation of rapacious change held in bounds 
by the final and supreme end: the rational good. 
V The animism of the popular mind died to reappear 
as cosmology. 

Repeatedly in this course we have heard of sci- 
ences which began as parts of philosophy and 
which gradually won their independence. Another 
statement of the same history is that both science 
i and philosophy began in subjection to mythological 
animism. Both began with acceptance of a nature 
whose irregularities displayed the meaningless vari- 
< ability of foolish wants held within the limits of 
order and uniformity by an underlying movement 
toward a final and stable purpose. And when 
the sciences gradually assumed the task of reduc- 
ing irregular caprice to regular conjunction, phi- 
losophy bravely took upon itself the task of sub- 
stantiating, under the caption of a spiritual view 
of the universe, the animistic survival. Doubtless 
Socrates brought philosophy to earth; but his in- 
junction to man to know himself was incredibly 


compromised in its execution by the fact that later 
philosophers submerged man in the world to which 
philosophy was brought: a world which was the 
heavy and sunken center of hierarchic heavens lo- 
cated in their purity and refinement as remotely as 
possible from the gross and muddy vesture of 

The various limitations of Greek custom, its 
hostile indifference to all outside the narrow city- 
state, its assumption of fixed divisions of wise and 
blind among men, its inability socially to utilize 
science, its subordination of human intention to 
cosmic aim — all of these things were worked into 
moral theory. Philosophy had no active hand in 
producing the condition of barbarism in Europe v ^| 
from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries. By an 
unwitting irony which would have shocked none 
so much as the lucid moralists of Athens, their 
philosophic idealization, under captions of Nature 
and Reason, of the inherent limitations of Athenian 
society and Greek science, furnished the intellectual 
tools for defining, standardizing, and justifying all 
the fundamental clefts and antagonisms of feudal- 
ism. When practical conditions are not frozen in 
men's imagination into crystalline truths, they are 
naturally fluid. They come and go. But when 
intelligence fixes fluctuating circumstances into 
final ideals, petrifaction is likely to occur; and 
philosophy gratuitously took upon itself the re- 


sponsibility for justifying the worst defects of 
barbarian Europe by showing their necessary con- 
nection with divine reason. 

The division of mankind into the two camps of 
the redeemed and the condemned had not needed 
philosophy to produce it. But the Greek cleavage 
of men into separate kinds on the basis of their 
position within or without the city-state was used 
to rationalize this harsh intolerance. The hier- 
archic organization of feudalism, within church 
and state, of those possessed of sacred rule and 
those whose sole excellence was obedience, did not 
require moral theory to generate or explain it. 
But it took philosophy to furnish the intellectual 
tools by which such chance episodes were emblaz- 
oned upon the cosmic heavens as a grandiose 
spiritual achievement. No; it is all too easy to 
explain bitter intolerance and desire for domina- 
tion. Stubborn as they are, it was only when 
Greek moral theory had put underneath them the 
distinction between the irrational and the rational, 
between divine truth and good and corrupt and 
weak human appetite, that intolerance on system 
and earthly domination for the sake of eternal 
excellence were philosophically sanctioned. The 
health and welfa re of the body and the securing 
for all of a sure and a prospej^rujLJive^lipod 
were not matters for which medieval conditions fos- 
tered care in any case. But moral philosophy 


was prevailed upon to damn the body on principle, 
and to relegate to insignificance as merely mun- 
v dane and temporal the problem of a just industrial 
order. Circumstances of the times bore with suffi- 
cient hardness upon successful scientific investiga- 
tion; but philosophy added the conviction that in 
any case truth is so supernal that it must be super- 
naturally revealed, and so important that it must 
be authoritatively imparted and enforced. Intelli- 
gence was diverted from the critical consideration 
of the natural sources and social consequences 
of better and worse into the channel of meta- 
physical subtleties and systems, acceptance of 
which was made essential to participation in the 
social order and in rational excellence. Philosophy 
bound the once erect form of human endeavor and 
progress to the chariot wheels of cosmology and 

Since the Renaissance, moral philosophy has re- 
peatedly reverted to the Greek ideal of natural ex- 
I cellence realized in social life, under the fostering 
care of intelligence in action. The return, how- 
ever, has taken place under the influence of demo- 
cratic polity, commercial expansion, and scientific 
reorganization. It has been a liberation more than 
a reversion. This combined return and emancipa- 
tion, having transformed our practice of life in the 
last four centuries, will not be content till it has 
written itself clear in our theory of that practice. 


Whether the consequent revolution in moral philos- 
ophy be termed pragmatism or be given the hap- 
pier title of the applied and experimental habit of 
mind is of little account. What is of moment is 
that intelligence has descended from its lonely iso- 
lation at the remote edge of things, whence it 
operated as unmoved mover and ultimate good, to 
v take its seat in the moving affairs of men. Theory 
may therefore become responsible to the practices 
that have generated it; the good be connected 
with nature, but with nature naturally, not meta- 
physically, conceived, and social life be cherished 
in behalf of its own immediate possibilities, not on 
the ground of its remote connections with a cosmic 
reason and an absolute end. 

There is a notion, more familiar than correct, 
that Greek thought sacrificed the individual to the 
state. None has ever known better than the Greek 
that the individual comes to himself and to his 
own only in association with others. But Greek 
thought subjected, as we have seen, both state and 
individual to an external cosmic order ; and thereby 
it inevitably restricted the free use in doubt, in- 
quiry, and experimentation, of the human intelli- 
gence. The anima libera, the free mind of the 
sixteenth century, of Galileo and his successors, 
was the counterpart of the disintegration of cos- 
mology and its animistic teleology. The lecturer 
on political economy reminded us that his subject 


began, in the Middle Ages, as a branch of ethics, 
though, as he hastened to show, it soon got into 
better association. Well, the same company was 
once kept by all the sciences, mathematical and 
physical as well as social. According to all ac- 
counts it was the integrity of the number one and 
the rectitude of the square that attracted the 
attention of Pythagoras to arithmetic and geom- 
etry as promising fields of study. Astronomy was 
the projected picture book of a cosmic object les- 
son in morals, Dante's transcript of which is none 
the less literal because poetic. If physics alone re- 
mained outside the moral fold, while noble essences 
redeemed chemistry, occult forces blessed physi- 
ology, and the immaterial soul exalted psychology, 
physics is the exception that proves the rule: mat- 
ter was so inherently immoral that no high-minded 
science would demean itself by contact with it. 

If we do not join with many in lamenting the 
stripping from nature of those idealistic properties 
in which animism survived, if we do not mourn the 
secession of the sciences from ethics, it is because 
the abandonment by intelligence of a fixed and 
static moral end was the necessary precondition of 
a free and progressive science of both things and 
morals; because the emancipation of the sciences 
from ready made, remote, and abstract values was 
necessary to make the sciences available for creat- 
ing and maintaining more and specific values here 


and now. The divine comedy of modern medicine 
and hygiene is one of the human epics yet to be 
written ; but when composed it may prove no un- 
worthy companion of the medieval epic of other 
worldly beatific visions. The great ideas of the 
eighteenth century, that expansive epoch of moral 
perception which ranks in illumination and fervor 
along with classic Greek thought, the great ideas 
of the indefinitely continuous progress of humanity 
and of the power and significance of freed intelli- 

/ gence, were borne by a single mother — experi> 
mental inquiry. 

The growth of industry and commerce is at once 
cause and effect of the growth in science. Democ- 
ritus and other ancients conceived the mechanical 
theory of the universe. The notion was not only 
blank and repellent, because it ignored the rich 
social material which Plato and Aristotle had or- 
ganized into their rival idealistic views ; but it was 
scientifically sterile, a piece of dialectics. Con- 
tempt for machines as the accouterments of de- 

' spised mechanics kept the mechanical conception 
aloof from these specific and controllable experi- 
ences which alone could fructify it. This concep- 
tion, then, like the idealistic, was translated into a 
speculative cosmology and thrown like a vast net 
around the universe at large, as if to keep it from 
coming to pieces. It is from respect for the lever, 
the pulley, and the screw that modern experimental 


and mathematical mechanics derives itself. Mo- 
tion, traced through the workings of a machine, 
was followed out into natural events and studied 
just as motion, not as a poor yet necessary device 
for realizing final causes. So studied, it was found 
to be available for new machines and new applica- 
tions, which in creating new ends also promoted new 
wants, and thereby stimulated new activities, new 
discoveries, and new inventions. The recognition 
that natural energy can be systematically applied, 
through experimental observation, to the satisfac- 
tion and multiplication of concrete wants is doubt- 
less the greatest single discovery ever imported 
into the life of man — save perhaps the discovery of 
language. Science, borrowing from industry, re- 
paid the debt with interest, and has made the con- 
trol of natural forces for the aims of life so in- 
evitable that for the first time man is relieved from 
overhanging fear, with its wolflike scramble to pos- 
sess and accumulate, and is freed to consider the 
more gracious question of securing to all an ample 
and liberal life. The industrial life had been con- 
demned by Greek exaltation of abstract thought 
and by Greek contempt for labor, as representing 
' the brute struggle of carnal appetite for its own 
satiety. The industrial movement, offspring of 
science, restored it to its central position in morals. 
When Adam Smith made economic activity the 
moving spring of man's unremitting effort, from 


the cradle to the grave, to better his own lot, he 
recorded this change. And when he made sympa- 
thy the central spring in man's conscious moral en- 
deavor, he reported the effect which the increasing 
intercourse of men, due primarily to commerce, had 

f in breaking down suspicion and jealousy and in 
liberating man's kindlier impulses. 

Democracy, the crucial expression of modern 
life, is not so much an addition to the scientific 

j and industrial tendencies as it is the perception of 
their social or spiritual meaning. Democracy is 
an absurdity where faith in the individual as in- 
dividual is impossible ; and this faith is impossible 
when intelligence is regarded as a cosmic power, 
not an adjustment and application of individual 
tendencies. It is also impossible when appetites 
and desires are conceived to be the dominant factor 
in the constitution of most men's characters, and 
when appetite and desire are conceived to be mani- 
festations of the disorderly and unruly principle of 
nature. To put the intellectual center of gravity 
in the objective cosmos, outside of men's own ex- 
periments and tests, and then to invite the applica- 
tion of individual intelligence to the determination 
of society, is to invite chaos. To hold that want 
is mere negative flux and hence requires external 
fixation by reason, and then to invite the wants to 
give free play to themselves in social construction 
and intercourse, is to call down anarchy. Democ- 


racy is estimable only through the changed con- 
ception of intelligence, that forms modern science, 
and of want, that forms modern industry. It is 
essentially a changed psychology. The substitu- 
tion, for a priori truth and deduction, of fluent 
doubt and inquiry meant trust in human nature 
in the concrete; in individual honesty, curiosity, 
and sympathy. The substitution of moving com- 
merce for fixed custom meant a view of wants as 
the dynamics of social progress, not as the pathol- 
ogy of private greed. The nineteenth century in- 
deed turned sour on that somewhat complacent op- 
timism in which the eighteenth century rested: the 
ideas that the intelligent self-love of individuals 
would conduce to social cohesion, and competition 
among individuals usher in the kingdom of social 
welfare. But the conception of a social harmony 
of interests in which the achievement by each in- 
dividual of his own freedom should contribute to 
a like perfecting of the powers of all, through a 
fraternally organized society, is the permanent 
contribution of the industrial movement to morals 
— even though so far it be but the contribution 
of a problem. 

Intellectually speaking, the centuries since the 
fourteenth are the true middle ages. They mark 
the transitional period of mental habit, as the so- 
called medieval period represents the petrifaction, 
under changed outward conditions, of Greek ideas. 


The conscious articulation of genuinely modern 
tendencies has yet to come, and till it comes the 

v ethic of our own life must remain undescribed. 
But the system of morals which has come nearest 

j to the reflection of the movements of science, de- 
mocracy, and commerce, is doubtless the utilitarian. 
Scientific, after the modern mode, it certainly 
would be. Newton's influence dyes deep the moral 
thought of the eighteenth century. The arrange- 
ments of the solar system had been described in 
terms of a homogeneous matter and motion, worked 
by two opposed and compensating forces: all be- 
cause a method of analysis, of generalization by 
analogy, and of mathematical deduction back to 
new empirical details had been followed. The im- 
agination of the eighteenth century was a New- 
tonian imagination; and this no less in social 
than in physical matters. Hume proclaims that 
morals is about to become an experimental science. 
Just as, almost in our own day, Mill's interest in a 
method for social science led him to reformulate 
the logic of experimental inquiry, so all the great 
men of the Enlightenment were in search for the 
organon of morals which should repeat the physical 
triumphs of Newton. Bentham notes that physics 
has had its Bacon and Newton; that morals has 
had its Bacon in Helvetius, but still awaits its 
Newton ; and he leaves us in no doubt that at the 
moment of writing he was ready, modestly but 


firmly, to fill the waiting niche with its missing 

The industrial movement furnished the concrete 
imagery for this ethical renovation. The utili- 
tarians borrowed from Adam Smith the notion that 
through industrial exchange in a free society the 
individual pursuing his own good is led, under the 
guidance of the " invisible hand," to promote the 
general good more effectually than if he had set 
out to do it. This idea was dressed out in the 
atomistic psychology which Hartley built out from 
Locke — and was returned at usurious rates to later 

From the great French writers who had sought 
to justify and promote democratic individualism, 
came the conception that, since it is perverted 
political institutions which deprave individuals and 
bring them into hostility, nation against nation, 
class against class, individual against individual, 
the great political problem is such a reform of law 
and legislation, civil and criminal, of administra- 
tion, and of education as will force the individual 
to find his own interests in pursuits conducing to 
the welfare of others. 

Tremendously effective as a tool of criticism, op- 
erative in abolition and elimination, utilitarianism 
failed to measure up to the constructive needs of 
the time. Its theoretical equalization of the good 
of each with that of every other was practically 


perverted by its excessive interest in the middle 
and manufacturing classes. Its speculative defect 
of an atomistic psychology combined with this 
narrowness of vision to make light of the construc- 
tive work that needs to be done by the state, before 
all can have, otherwise than in name, an equal 
chance to count in the common good. Thus the 
age-long subordination of economics to politics was 
revenged in the submerging of both politics and 
ethics in a narrow theory of economic profit; and 
utilitarianism, in its orthodox descendants, prof- 
fered the disjointed pieces of a mechanism, with a 
monotonous reiteration that looked at aright they 
form a beautifully harmonious organism. 

Prevision, and to some extent experience, of this 
failure, conjoined with differing social traditions 
and ambitions, evoked German idealism, the trans- 
cendental morals of Kant and his successors. Ger- 
man thought strove to preserve the traditions 
which bound culture to the past, while revising 
these traditions to render them capable of meeting 
novel conditions. It found weapons at hand in the 
conceptions borrowed by Roman law from Stoic 
philosophy, and in the conceptions by which Prot- 
estant humanism had re-edited scholastic Catholi- 
cism. Grotius had made the idea of natural law, 
natural right and obligation, the central idea of 
German morals, as thoroughly as Locke had made 
the individual desire for liberty and happiness the 


focus of English and then of French speculation. 
Materialized idealism is the happy monstrosity in 
which the popular demand for vivid imagery is 
most easily reconciled with the equally strong de- 
mand for supremacy of moral values ; and the com- 
plete idealistic materialism of Stoicism has always 
given its ideas a practical influence out of all pro- 
portion to their theoretical vogue as a system. 
To the Protestant, that is the German, humanist, 
Natural Law, the bond of harmonious reason in 
nature, the spring of social intercourse among 
men, the inward light of individual conscience, 
united Cicero, St. Paul, and Luther in blessed 
union ; gave a rational, not superrational basis for 
morals, and provided room for social legislation 
which at the same time could easily be held back 
from too ruthless application to dominant class in- 

Kant saw the mass of empirical and hence irrele- 
vant detail that had found refuge within this lib- 
eral and diffusive reason. He saw that the idea of 
reason could be made self-consistent only by strip- 
ping it naked of these empirical accretions. He 
then provided, in his critiques, a somewhat cum- 
brous moving van for transferring the resultant 
pure or naked reason out of nature and the ob- 
jective world, and for locating it in new quarters, 
with a new stock of goods and new customers. The 
new quarters were particular subjects, individuals ; 


the stock of goods were the forms of perception and 
the functions of thought by which empirical flux is 
woven into durable fabrics ; the new customers were 
a society of individuals in which all are ends in them- 
selves. There ought to be an injunction issued 
that Kant's saying about Hume's awakening of 
him should not be quoted save in connection with 
his other saying that Rousseau brought him to him- 
self, in teaching him that the philosopher is of less 
account than the laborer in the fields unless he con- 
tributes to human freedom. But none the less, the 
new tenant, the universal reason, and the old home- 
stead, the empirical tumultuous individual, could 
not get on together. Reason became a mere voice 
which, having nothing in particular to say, said 
Law, Duty, in general, leaving to the existing 
social order of the Prussia of Frederick the Great 
the congenial task of declaring just what was ob- 
ligatory in the concrete. The marriage of free- 
dom and authority was thus celebrated with the 
understanding that sentimental primacy went to 
the former and practical control to the latter. 

The effort to force a universal reason that had 
been used to the broad domains of the cosmos into 
the cramped confines of individuality conceived as 
merely " empirical," a highly particularized crea- 
ture of sense, could have but one result: an explo- 
sion. The products of that explosion constitute 
the Post-Kantian philosophies. It was the work of 


Hegel to attempt to fill in the empty reason of 
Kant with the concrete contents of history. The 
voice sounded like the voice of Aristotle, Thomas 
of Aquino, and Spinoza translated into Swabian 
German ; but the hands were as the hands of Mon- 
tesquieu, Herder, Condorcet, and the rising his- 
torical school. The outcome was the assertion that 
history is reason, and reason is history : the actual 
is rational, the rational is the actual. It gave the 
pleasant appearance (which Hegel did not strenu- 
ously discourage) of being specifically an idealiza- 
tion of the Prussian nation, and incidentally a sys- 
tematized apologetic for the universe at large. 
But in intellectual and practical effect, it lifted the 
idea of process above that of fixed origins and fixed 
ends, and presented the social and moral order, as 
well as the intellectual, as a scene of becoming, and 
it located reason somewhere within the struggles of 

Unstable equilibrium, rapid fermentation, and a 
succession of explosive reports are thus the chief 
notes of modern ethics. Scepticism and tradition- 
alism, empiricism and rationalism, crude natural- 
isms and all-embracing idealisms, flourish side by 
side — all the more flourish, one suspects, because 
side by side. Spencer exults because natural science 
reveals that a rapid transit system of evolution is 
carrying us automatically to the goal of perfect 
man in perfect society; and his English idealistic 


contemporary, Green, is so disturbed by the re- 
moval from nature of its moral qualities, that he 
tries to show that this makes no difference, since na- 
ture in any case is constituted and known through 
a spiritual principle which is as permanent as na- 
ture is changing. An Amiel genteelly laments the 
decadence of the inner life, while his neighbor Nietz- 
sche brandishes in rude ecstasy the banner of brute 
survival as a happy omen of the final victory of 
nobility of mind. The reasonable conclusion from 
such a scene is that there is taking place a trans- 
formation of attitude towards moral theory rather 
than mere propagation of varieties among theories. 
The classic theories all agreed in one regard. They 
all alike assumed the existence of the end, the sum- 
mum bonum, the final goal; and of the separate 
moral force that moves to that goal. Moralists 
have disputed as to whether the end is an aggre- 
gate of pleasurable state of consciousness, enjoy- 
ment of the divine essence, acknowledgment of the 
law of duty, or conformity to environment. So they 
have disputed as to the path by which the final 
goal is to be reached: fear or benevolence? rever- 
ence for pure law or pity for others? self-love or 
altruism? But these very controversies implied 
that there was but the one end and the one 

The transformation in attitude, to which I re- 
ferred, is the growing belief that the proper busi- 


ness of intelligence is discrimination of multiple 

and present goods and of the varied immediate 

{ means of their realization ; not search for the one 

remote aim. The progress of biology has accus- 

| tomed our minds to the notion that intelligence is 
not an outside power presiding supremely but stat- 
ically over the desires and efforts of man, but 
is a method of adjustment of capacities and con- 
ditions within specific situations. History, as the 

i lecturer on that subject told us, has discovered it- 
self in the idea of process. The genetic standpoint 
makes us aware that the systems of the past are 
neither fraudulent impostures nor absolute revela- 
tions ; but are the products of political, economic, 
and scientific conditions whose change carries with 
it change of theoretical formulations. The recog- 
nition that intelligence is properly an organ of ad- 
justment in difficult situations makes us aware that 
past theories were of value so far as they helped 
carry to an issue the social perplexities from which 
they emerged. But the chief impact of the evo- 
lutionary method is upon the present. Theory 
having learned what it cannot do, is made respon- 
sible for the better performance of what needs to 
be done, and what only a broadly equipped intelli- 
gence can undertake: study of the conditions out 
of which come the obstacles and the resources of 
adequate life, and developing and testing the ideas 
that, as working hypotheses, may be used to dimin- 


ish the causes of evil and to buttress and ex- 
pand the sources of good. This program is indeed 
vague, but only unfamiliarity with it could lead 
one to the conclusion that it is less vague than the 
idea that there is a single moral ideal and a single 
moral motive force. 

From this point of view there is no separate body 
of moral rules ; no separate system of motive pow- 
ers; no separate subject-matter of moral knowl- 
edge, and hence no such thing as an isolated ethical 
science. If the business of morals is not to specu- 
late upon man's final end and upon an ultimate 
standard of right, it is to utilize physiology, an- 
thropology, and psychology to discover all that 
can be discovered of man, his organic powers and 
propensities. If its business is not to search for 
the one separate moral motive, it is to converge all 
the instrumentalities of the social arts, of law, edu- 
cation, economics, and political science upon the 
construction of intelligent methods of improving 
the common lot. 

If we still wish to make our peace with the past, 
and to sum up the plural and changing goods of 
life in a single word, doubtless the term happiness 
is the one most apt. But we should again ex- 
change free morals for sterile metaphysics, if we 
imagine that " happiness " is any less unique than 
the individuals who experience it ; any less complex 
than the constitution of their capacities, or any less 


variable than the objects upon which their capaci- 
ties are directed. 

To many timid, albeit sincere, souls of an earlier 
century, the decay of the doctrine that all true 
and worthful science is knowledge of final causes 
seemed fraught with danger to science and to mor- 
als. The rival conception of a wide open universe, 
a universe without bounds in time or space, without 
final limits of origin or destiny, a universe with the 
lid off, was a menace. We now face in moral sci- 
ence a similar crisis and like opportunity, as well 
as share in a like dreadful suspense. The abolition 
of a fixed and final goal and causal force in nature 
did not, as matter of fact, render rational convic- 
tion less important or less attainable. It was ac- 
companied by the provision of a technique of per- 
sistent and detailed inquiry in all special fields of 
fact, a technique which led to the detection of un- 
suspected forces and the revelation of undreamed 
of uses. In like fashion we may anticipate that 
the abolition of the final goal and the single motive 
power and the separate and infallible faculty in 
morals, will quicken inquiry into the diversity of 
specific goods of experience, fix attention upon 
their conditions, and bring to light values now dim 
and obscure. The change may relieve men from 
responsibility for what they cannot do, but it will 
promote thoughtful consideration of what they 
may do and the definition of responsibility for what 


they do amiss because of failure to think straight 
and carefully. Absolute goods will fall into the 
background, but the question of making more sure 
and extensive the share of all men in natural and 
social goods will be urgent, a problem not to be 
escaped nor evaded. 

Morals, philosophy, returns to its first love ; love 
of the wisdom that is nurse, as nature is mother, 
of good. But it returns to the Socratic principle 
equipped with a multitude of special methods of in- 
quiry and testing; with an organized mass of 
knowledge, and with control of the arrangements 
by which industry, law, and education may concen- 
trate upon the problem of the participation by all 
men and women, up to their capacity of absorption, 
in all attained values. Morals may then well leave 
to poetry and to art, the task (so unartistically 
performed by philosophy since Plato) of gathering 
together and rounding out, into one abiding pic- 
ture, the separate and special goods of life. It 
may leave this task with the assurance that the re- 
sultant synthesis will not depict any final and all- 
inclusive good, but will add just one more specific 
good to the enjoyable excellencies of life. 

Humorous irony shines through most of the 
harsh glances turned towards the idea of an ex- 
perimental basis and career for morals. Some 
shiver in the fear that morals will be plunged into 
anarchic confusion — a view well expressed by a 


recent writer in the saying that if the a priori and 
transcendental basis of morals be abandoned " we 
shall have merely the same certainty that now ex- 
ists in physics and chemistry " ! Elsewhere lurks 
the apprehension that the progress of scientific 
method will deliver the purposive freedom of mart 
bound hand and foot to the fatal decrees of iron 
necessity, called natural law. The notion that 
| laws govern and forces rule is an animistic sur- 
vival. It is a product of reading nature in terms 
of politics in order to turn around and then read 
politics in the light of supposed sanctions of na- 
ture. This idea passed from medieval theology 
into the science of Newton, to whom the universe 
was the dominion of a sovereign whose laws were 
the laws of nature. From Newton it passed into 
the deism of the eighteenth century, whence it mi- 
grated into the philosophy of the Enlightenment, 
to make its last stand in Spencer's philosophy of 
the fixed environment and the static goal. 

No, nature is not an unchangeable order, un- 
winding itself majestically from the reel of law 
under the control of deified forces. It is an in- 
definite congeries of changes. Laws are not gov- 
ernmental regulations which limit change, but are 
convenient formulations of selected portions of 
change followed through a longer or shorter period 
of time, and then registered in statistical forms 
that are amenable to mathematical manipulation. 


That this device of shorthand symbolization pres- 
ages the subjection of man's intelligent effort to 
fixity of law and environment is interesting as a 
culture survival, but is not important for moral 
theory. Savage and child delight in creating 
bogeys from which, their origin and structure be-, 
ing conveniently concealed, interesting thrills and 
shudders may be had. Civilized man in the nine- 
teenth century outdid these bugaboos in his image 
of a fixed universe hung on a cast-iron framework 
of fixed, necessary, and universal laws. Knowl- 
edge of nature does not mean subjection to predes- 
tination, but insight into courses of change; an 
insight which is formulated in " laws," that is, 
methods of subsequent procedure. 

Knowledge of the process and conditions of phys- 
ical and social change through experimental science 
and genetic history has one result with a double 
name: increase_of control, andjncrease of^esponsi- 
bility ; increase of powerjto^direct jiaturaLchange, 
and increase of responsibility for its equitable direc- 
tion toward fuller good. Theory located within 
progressive practice instead of reigning statically 
supreme over it, means practice itself made respon- 
sible to intelligence; to intelligence which relent- 
lessly scrutinizes the consequences of every prac- 
tice, and which exacts liability by an equally re- 
lentless publicity. As long as morals occupies it- 
self with mere ideals, forces and conditions as they 


are will be good enough for " practical " men, 
since they are then left free to their own devices 
in turning these to their own account. As long as 
moralists plume themselves upon possession of the 
domain of the categorical imperative with its bare 
precepts, men of executive habits will always be at 
their elbows to regulate the concrete social condi- 
tions through which the form of law gets its actual 
filling of specific injunctions. When freedom is 
conceived to be transcendental, the coercive re- 
straint of immediate necessity will lay its harsh 
hand upon the mass of men. 

In the end, men do what they can do. They 
refrain from doing what they cannot do. They 
do what their own specific powers in conjunction 
with the limitations and resources of the environ- 
ment permit. The effective control of their powers 

^ is not through precepts, but through the regula- 
tion of their conditions. If this regulation is to 
be not merely physical or coercive, but moral, it 

, must consist of the intelligent selection and de- 
termination of the environments in which we act; 
and in an intelligent exaction of responsibility for 
the use of men's powers. Theorists inquire after 
the " motive " to morality, to virtue and the good, 
under such circumstances. What then, one won- 
ders, is their conception of the make-up of human 
nature and of its relation to virtue and to good- 
ness? The pessimism that dictates such a ques- 


tion, if it be justified, precludes any consideration 
of morals. 

The diversion of intelligence from discrimina- 
tion of plural and concrete goods, from noting 
their conditions and obstacles, and from devis- 
ing methods for holding men responsible for their 
concrete use of powers and conditions, has done 

\j more than brute love of power to establish in- 
equality and injustice among men. It has done 
more, because it has confirmed with social sanc- 
tions the principle of feudal domination. All 
men require moral sanctions in their conduct: the 
consent of their kind. Not getting it otherwise, 
they go insane to feign it. No man ever lived 

— with the exclusive approval of his own conscience. 
Hence the vacuum left in practical matters by the 
remote irrelevancy of transcendental morals has to 
be filled in somehow. It is filled in. It is filled in 
with class-codes, class-standards, class-approvals 
— with codes which recommend the practices and 
habits already current in a given circle, set, calling, 
profession, trade, industry, club, or gang. These 
class-codes always lean back upon and support 
themselves by the professed ideal code. This latter 
meets them more than half-way. Being in its pre- 
tense a theory for regulating practice, it must dem- 
onstrate its practicability. It is uneasy in isolation, 
and travels hastily to meet with compromise and 
accommodation the actual situation in all its brute 


unrationality. Where the pressure is greatest — 
I in the habitual practice of the political and eco- 
nomic chieftains — there it accommodates the most. 

Class-codes of morals are sanctions, under the 
caption of ideals, of uncriticised customs ; they are 
recommendations, under the head of duties, of what 
the members of the class are already most given 
to doing. If there are to obtain more equable and 
comprehensive principles of action, exacting a 
more impartial exercise of natural power and re- 
source in the interests of a common good, members 
of a class must no longer rest content in responsi- 
bility to a class whose traditions constitute its 
conscience, but be made responsible to a society 
whose conscience is its free and effectively organ- 
ized intelligence. 

In such a conscience alone will the Socratic in- 
junction to man to know himself be fulfilled. 


IT should be possible to discern and describe a 
knowing as one identifies any object, concern, 
or event. It must have its own marks; it must 
offer characteristic features — as much so as a 
thunder-storm, the constitution of a State, or a 
leopard. In the search for this affair, we are first 

* of all desirous for something which is for itself, 
contemporaneously with its occurrence, a cognition, 

% not something called knowledge by another and 
from without — whether this other be logician, 
psychologist, or epistemologist. The " knowl- 
edge " may turn out false, and hence no knowl- 
edge; but this is an after-affair; it may prove 
to be rich in fruitage of wisdom, but if this 
outcome be only wisdom after the event, it 
does not concern us. What we want is just some- 
thing which takes itself as knowledge, rightly or 

1 Reprinted, with considerable change in the arrange- 
ment and in the matter of the latter portion, from Mind, 
Vol. XV., N.S., July, 1906. 



This means a specific case, a sample. Yet in- 
stances are proverbially dangerous — so naively 
and graciously may they beg the questions at issue. 
Our recourse is to an example so simple, so much 
on its face as to be as innocent as may be of as- 
sumptions. This case we shall gradually compli- 
cate, mindful at each step to state just what new 
elements are introduced. Let us suppose a smell, 
just a floating odor. This odor may be anchored 
by supposing that it moves to action; it starts 
changes that end in picking and enjoying a rose. 
This description is intended to apply to the course 
of events witnessed and recounted from without. 
What sort of a course must it be to constitute a 
knowledge, or to have somewhere within its career 
that which deserves this title? The smell, im- 
primis, is there; the movements that it excites are 
there; the final plucking and gratification are ex- 
perienced. But, let us say, the smell is not the 
smell of the rose; the resulting change of the or- 
ganism is not a sense of walking and reaching ; the 
delicious finale is not the fulfilment of the move- 
ment, and, through that, of the original smell ; " is 
not," in each case meaning is " not experienced as n 
such. We may take, in short, these experiences in 
a brutely serial fashion. The smell, S, is replaced 
(and displaced) by a felt movement, K, this is re- 


placed by the gratification, G. Viewed from with- 
out, as we are now regarding it, there is S-K-G. 
But from within, for itself, it is now S, now 
K 9 now G, and so on to the end of the chapter. 
Nowhere is there looking before and after; 
memory and anticipation are not born. Such 
an experience neither is, in whole or in part, 
a knowledge, nor does it exercise a cognitive 

Here, however, we may be halted. If there is 
anything present in " consciousness " at all, we 
may be told (at least we constantly are so told) 
there must be knowledge of it as present — present, 
at all events, in " consciousness." There is, so it 
is argued, knowledge at least of a simple appre- 
hensive type, knowledge of the acquaintance order, 
knowledge that, even though not knowledge what. 
The smell, it is admitted, does not know about any- 
thing else, nor is anything known about the smell 
(the same thing, perhaps) ; but the smell is known, 
either by itself, or by the mind, or by some sub- 
ject, some unwinking, unremitting eye. No, we 
must reply ; there is no apprehension without some 
i (however slight) context; no acquaintance which 
is not either recognition or expectation. Ac- 
quaintance is presence honored with an escort; 
presence is introduced as familiar, or an associate 
springs up to greet it. Acquaintance always im- 
plies a little friendliness ; a trace of re-knowing, of 


anticipatory welcome or dread of the trait to fol- 
low, i 

, This claim cannot be dismissed as trivial. If 
valid, it carries with it the distance between being 
and knowing : and the recognition of an element of 
mediation, that is, of art, in all knowledge. This 
disparity, this transcendence, is not something 
which holds of our knowledge, of finite knowledge, 
just marking the gap between our type of con- 
sciousness and some other with which we may con- 
trast it after the manner of the agnostic or the 
transcendentalist (who hold so much property in 
joint ownership!), but exists because knowing is 
knowing, that way of bringing things to bear upon 
things which we call reflection — a manipulation of 
things experienced in the light one of another. 

" Feeling," I read in a recent article, " feeling 
is immediately acquainted with its own quality, 
with its own subjective being." * How and whence 
this duplication in the inwards of feeling into feel- 

1 1 must remind the reader again of a point already sug- 
gested. It is the identification of presence in consciousness 
| with knowledge as such that leads to setting up a mind 
' (ego, subject) which has the peculiar property of knowing 
(only so often it knows wrong!), or else that leads to 
supplying "sensations" with the peculiar property of sur- 
veying their own entrails. Given the correct feeling that 
knowledge involves relationship, there being, by supposition, 
no other thing to which the thing in consciousness is related, 
it is forthwith related to a soul substance, or to its ghostly 
offspring, a "subject," or to "consciousness" itself. 


ing the knower and feeling the known ? into feeling 
as being and feeling as acquaintance? Let us 
frankly deny such monsters. Feeling is its own 
^quality; is its own specific (whence and why, once 
more, subjective?) being. If this statement be 
dogmatism, it is at least worth insistent declara- 
tion, were it only by way of counter-irritant to that 
other dogmatism which asserts that being in " con- 
sciousness " is always presence for or in knowledge. 
So let us repeat once more, that to be a smell (or 
anything else) is one thing, to be known as smell, 
, another ; to be a " feeling " one thing, to be known 
as a " feeling" another. 1 The first is thinghood; 
existence indubitable, direct; in this way all things 
are that are in " consciousness " at all. 2 The 
second is reflected being, things indicating and call- 
ing for other things — something offering the possi- 
bility of truth and hence of falsity. The first is 

1 Let us further recall that this theory requires either that 
things present shall already be psychical things (feelings, 
sensations, etc.), in order to be assimilated to the knowing 
mind, subject to consciousness; or else translates genuinely 
naive realism into the miracle of a mind that gets out- 
side itself to lay its ghostly hands upon the things of an 
external world. 

'This means that things may be present as known, just as 
« they be present as hard or soft, agreeable or disgusting, 
hoped for or dreaded. The mediacy, or the art of interven- 
tion, which characterizes knowledge, indicates precisely the 
way in which known things as known are immediately 


genuine immediacy; the second is (in the instance 
discussed) a pseudo-immediacy, which in the same 
breath that it proclaims its immediacy smuggles in 
another term ( and one which is unexperienced both 
/ in itself and in its relation) the subject or " con- 
sciousness," to which the immediate is related. 1 

But we need not remain with dogmatic asser- 
tions. To be acquainted with a thing or with a 
person has a definite empirical meaning; we have 
only to call to mind what it is to be genuinely and 
empirically acquainted, to have done forever with 
this uncanny presence which, though bare and sim- 
ple presence, is yet known, and thus is clothed 
upon and complicated. To be acquainted with a 
thing is to be assured (from the standpoint of the 
experience itself) that it is of such and such a 
character ; that it will behave, if given an oppor- 
tunity, in such and such a way ; that the obviously 
and flagrantly present trait is associated with fel- 
f low traits that will show themselves, if the lead- 
ings of the present trait are followed out. To be 

1 If Hume had had a tithe of the interest in the flux ot 
perceptions and in habit — principles of continuity and of 
- organization — which he had in distinct and isolated exist- 
ences, he might have saved us both from German Erkennt- 
nisstheorie, and from that modern miracle play, the psychol- 
ogy of elements of consciousness, that under the aegis of 
science, does not hesitate to have psychical elements com- 
pound and breed, and in their agile intangibility put to 
shame the performances of their less acrobatic cousins, 
physical atoms. 


acquainted is to anticipate to some extent, on the 
basis of prior experience. I am, say, barely ac- 
quainted with Mr. Smith : then I have no extended 
body of associated qualities along with those palpa- 
bly present, but at least some one suggested trait 
occurs ; his nose, his tone of voice, the place where 
I saw him, his calling in life, an interesting anec- 
dote about him, etc. To be acquainted is to know 
what a thing is like in some particular. If one is 
acquainted with the smell of a flower it means that 
the smell is not just smell, but reminds one of 

' some other experienced thing which stands in con- 
tinuity with the smell. There is thus supplied a 
condition of control over or purchase upon what 
is present, the possibility of translating it into 
terms of some other trait not now sensibly present. 
Let us return to our example. Let us suppose 
that S is not just displaced by K and then by G. 
Let us suppose it persists ; and persists not as an 
unchanged S alongside K and G, nor yet as fused 
with them into a new further quale J. For in such 
events, we have only the type already considered 
and rejected. For an observer the new quale might 
be more complex, or fuller of meaning, than the 

' original S, K, or G, but might not be experienced 
as complex. We might thus suppose a composite 
photograph which should suggest nothing of the 
complexity of its origin and structure. In this 
case we should have simply another picture. 


But we may also suppose that the blur of the 
photograph suggests the superimposition of pic- 
tures and something of their character. Then we 
get another, and for our problem, much more fruit- 
ful kind of persistence. We will imagine that the 
final G assumes this form: Gratification-terminat- 
1 ing-movement-induced-by-smell. The smell is 
still present ; it has persisted. It is not present in 
its original form, but is represented with a quality, 
an office, that of having excited activity and thereby 
terminating its career in a certain quale of grati- 
fication. It is not S, but 2 ; that is S with an 
I increment of meaning due to maintenance and ful- 
filment through a process. S is no longer just 
smell, but smell which has excited and thereby se- 

Here we have a cognitive, but not a cognitional 
thing. In saying that the smell is finally experi- 
enced as meaning gratification (through interven- 
ing handling, seeing, etc. ) and meaning it not in a 
hapless way, but in a fashion which operates to 
effect what is meant, we retrospectively attribute 
intellectual force and function to the smell — and 
this is what is signified by " cognitive." Yet the 
smell is not cognitional, because it did not know- 
ingly intend to mean this ; but is found, after the 
event, to have meant it. Nor again is the final 
experience, the 2 or transformed S 9 a knowledge. 

Here again the statement may be challenged. 


Those who agree with the denial that bare presence 
of a quale in "consciousness" constitutes acquaint- 
ance and simple apprehension, may now turn 
against us, saying that experience of fulfilment of 
meaning is just what we mean by knowledge, and 
this is just what the 2 of our illustration is. The 
point is fundamental. As the smell at first was 

J presence or being, less than knowing, so the fulfil- 
1 ment is an experience that is more than knowing. 
Seeing and handling the flower, enjoying the full 
meaning of the smell as the odor of just this 
beautiful thing, is not knowledge because it is more 
than knowledge. 

As this may seem dogmatic, let us suppose that 
the fulfilment, the realization, experience, is a 
knowledge. Then how shall it be distinguished 

v from and yet classed with other things called knowl- 
edge, viz., reflective, discursive cognitions? Such 
knowledges are what they are precisely because they 
are not fulfilments, but intentions, aims, schemes, 
symbols of overt fulfilment. Knowledge, perceptual 
and conceptual, of a hunting dog is prerequisite in 
order that I may really hunt with the hounds. The 
hunting in turn may increase my knowledge of dogs 
and their ways. But the knowledge of the dog, qua 
knowledge, remains characteristically marked off 
from the use of that knowledge in the fulfilment 
experience, the hunt. The hunt is a realization of 
knowledge; it alone, if you please, verifies, vali- 


dates, knowledge, or supplies tests of truth. The 
prior knowledge of the dog, was, if you wish, 
hypothetical, lacking in assurance or categorical 
certainty. The hunting, the fulfilling, realizing 
experience alone gives knowledge, because it alone 
completely assures ; makes faith good in works. 

Now there is and can be no objection to this 
definition of knowledge, provided it is consistently 
adhered to. One has as much right to identify 
knowledge with complete assurance, as I have to 
identify it with anything else. Considerable justi- 
fication in the common use of language, in common 
sense, may be found for defining knowledge as com- 
plete assurance. But even upon this definition, the 
fulfilling experience is not, as such, complete assur- 
ance, and hence not a knowledge. Assurance, cog- 
nitive validation, and guaranteeship, follow from 
it, but are not coincident with its occurrence. It 
* gives, but is not, assurance. The concrete con- 
struction of a story, the manipulation of a machine, 
the hunting with the dogs, is not, so far as it is 
fulfilment, a confirmation of meanings previously 
entertained as cognitional; that is, is not contem- 
poraneously experienced as such. To think of 
prior schemes, symbols, meanings, as fulfilled in a 
subsequent experience, is reflectively to present 
in their relations to one another both the mean- 
ings and the experiences in which they are, as 
a matter of fact, embodied. This reflective at- 


t titude cannot be identical with the fulfilment ex- 
perience itself; it occurs only in retrospect when 
the worth of the meanings, or cognitive ideas, is 
critically inspected in the light of their fulfilment ; 
or it occurs as an interruption of the fulfilling 
experience. The hunter stops his hunting as 
a fulfilment to reflect that he made a mistake 
in his idea of his dog, or again, that his dog 
is everything he thought he was — that his notion 
of him is confirmed. Or, the man stops the actual 
construction of his machine and turns back upon 
his plan in correction or in admiring estimate of its 
value. The fulfilling experience is not of itself 

"*■ knowledge, then, even if we identify knowledge 
with fulness of assurance or guarantee. More- 
over it gives, affords, assurance only in reference 
to a situation which we have not yet considered. 1 
Before the category of confirmation or refuta- 
tion can be introduced, there must be something 
which means to mean something and which there- 
fore can be guaranteed or nullified by the issue — 
and this is precisely what we have not as yet found. 
We must return to our instance and introduce a 
further complication. Let us suppose that the 
smell quale recurs at a later date, and that it 
recurs neither as the original S nor yet as the 

1 In other words, the situation as described is not to be 
confused with the case of hunting on purpose to test an idea 
regarding the dog. 


final 2 9 but as an S' which is fated or charged 
with the sense of the possibility of a fulfilment like 
unto 2. The S' that recurs is aware of some- 
thing else which it means, which it intends to effect 
through an operation incited by it and without 
which its own presence is abortive, and, so to say, 
unjustified, senseless. Now we have an experience 
which is cognitional, not merely cognitive; which 
is contemporaneously aware of meaning something 
beyond itself, instead of having this meaning as- 
cribed by another at a later period. The odor 
knows the rose; the rose is known by the odor; and 
the import of each term is constituted by the re- 
lationship vn which it stands to the other. That 
is, the import of the smell is the indicating and 
demanding relation which it sustains to the enjoy- 
ment of the rose as its fulfilling experience; while 
this enjoyment is just the content or definition 
of what the smell consciously meant, i.e., meant 
to mean. Both the thing meaning and the thing 
meant are elements in the same situation. Both 
are present, but both are not present in the same 
way. In fact, one is present as-wo£-present-in- 
the-same-way-in-wnich-the-other-is. It is present 
as something to be rendered present in the same 
way through the intervention of an operation. 
We must not balk at a purely verbal difficulty. 
It suggests a verbal inconsistency to speak of a 
thing present-as-absent. But all ideal contents, 


all aims (that is, things aimed at) are present in 
just such fashion. Things can be presented as 
absent, just as they can be presented as hard or 
soft, black or white, six inches or fifty rods away 
from the body. The assumption that an ideal 
content must be either totally absent, or else 

; present in just the same fashion as it will be 
when it is realized, is not only dogmatic, but self- 
contradictory. The only way in which an ideal 
content can be experienced at all is to be presented 
as not-present-in-the-same-way in which something 
else is present, the latter kind of presence afford- 
ing the standard or type of satisfactory presence. 
When present in the same way it ceases to be an 
ideal content. Not a contrast of bare existence 
over against non-existence, or of present conscious- 
ness over against reality out of present conscious- 
ness, but of a satisfactory with an unsatisfactory 

» mode of presence makes the difference between the 
" really " and the " ideally " present. 

In terms of our illustration, handling and en- 
joying the rose are present, but they are not 
present in the same way that the smell is present. 
Th?v are present as going to be there in the 
same way, through an operation which the smell 
stands sponsor for. The situation is inherently 
an uneasy one — one in which everything hangs 
upon the performance of the operation indicated; 
upon the adequacy of movement as a connecting 


link, or real adjustment of the thing meaning and 
/ the thing meant. Generalizing from the instance, 
• S we get the following definition: An experience is a 
knowledge, if in its quale there is an experienced 
distinction and connection of two elements of the 
following sort: one means or intends the presence 
of the other in the same fashion m which itself is 
already present, while the other is that which, while 
not present m the same fashion, must become so 
present if the meaning or intention of its com- 
panion or yoke-fellow is to be fulfilled through the 
operation it sets up. 


We now return briefly to the question of knowl- 
edge as acquaintance, and at greater length to 
that of knowledge as assurance, or as fulfilment 
which confirms and validates. With the recurrence 

4 of the odor as meaning something beyond itself, 
there is apprehension, knowledge that. One may 
now say I know what a rose smells like; or I know 
what this smell is like; I am acquainted with the 
rose's agreeable odor. In short, on the basis of a 
present quality, the odor anticipates and forestalls 
some further trait. 

We have also the conditions of knowledge of the 

. confirmation and refutation type. In the working 
out of the situation just described, in the trans- 


formation, self-indicated and self-demanded, of the 
tensional into a harmonious or satisfactory situa- 
tion, fulfilment or disappointment results. The 
odor either does or does not fulfil itself in the rose. 
The smell as intention is borne out by the facts, 
or is nullified. As has already been pointed out, 
the subsequent experience of the fulfilment type is 
not primarily a confirmation or refutation. Its 
import is too vital, too urgent to be reduced m 
itself just to the value of testing an intention or 
meaning. 1 But it gets in reflection just such veri- 
>'ficatory significance. If the smell's intention is 
unfulfilled, the discrepancy may throw one back, 
in reflection, upon the original situation. Inter- 
esting developments then occur. The smell meant 
a rose; and yet it did not (so it turns out) mean 
a rose ; it meant another flower, or something, one 
can't just tell what. Clearly there is something 

'Dr. Moore, in an essay in "Contributions to Logical 
Theory " has brought out clearly, on the basis of a criticism 
of the theory of meaning and fulfilment advanced in 
Royce's "World and Individual," the full consequences of 
this distinction. I quote one sentence (p. 350) : " Surely there 
is a pretty discernible difference between experience as a 
purposive idea, and the experience which fulfils this purpose. 
To call them both 'ideas' is at least confusing." The text 
above simply adds that there is also a discernible and im- 
portant difference between experiences which, de facto, are 
purposing and fulfilling (that is, are seen to be such ab 
extra), and those which meant to be such, and are found to 
be what they meant. 


else which enters in ; something else beyond the odor 
as it was first experienced determined the validity 
of its meaning. Here then, perhaps, we have a 
transcendental, as distinct from an experimental 
reference? Only if this something else makes no 
difference, or no detectable difference, m the smell 
itself. If the utmost observation and reflection 
can find no difference in the smell quales that fail 
and those that succeed in executing their inten- 
tions, then there is an outside controlling and dis- 
turbing factor, which, since it is outside of the sit- 
uation, can never be utilized in knowledge, and 
hence can never be employed in any concrete test- 
ing or verifying. In this case, knowing depends 
upon an extra-experimental or transcendental fac- 
tor. But this very transcendental quality makes 
both confirmation and refutation, correction, criti- 
cism, of the pretensions or meanings of things, 
impossible. For the conceptions of truth and 
error, we must, upon the transcendental basis, sub- 
stitute those of accidental success or failure. 
Sometimes the intention chances upon one, some- 
times upon another. Why or how, the gods only 
know — and they only if to them the extra-experi- 
mental factor is not extra-experimental, but makes 
a concrete difference in the concrete smell. But 
fortunately the situation is not one to be thus de- 
scribed. The factor that determines the success 
or failure, does institute a difference in the thing 


which means the object, and this difference is de~ 
f tectable, once attention, through failure, has been 
called to the need of its discovery. At the very 
least, it makes this difference : the smell is infected 
with an element of uncertainty of meaning — and 
this as a part of the thing experienced, not for 
an observer. This additional awareness at least 
brings about an additional wariness. Meaning is 
more critical, and operation more cautious. 

But we need not stop here. Attention may be 
fully directed to the subject of smells. Smells may 
become the object of knowledge. They may take, 
pro tempore, 1 the place which the rose formerly 
occupied. One may, that is, observe the cases in 
which odors mean other things than just roses, may 
voluntarily produce new cases for the sake of 
further inspection, and thus account for the 
cases where meanings had been falsified in the 
issue; discriminate more carefully the peculiari- 
ties of those meanings which the event verified, and 
thus safeguard and bulwark to some extent the 
employing of similar meanings in the future. Su- 
perficially, it may then seem as if odors were 
treated after the fashion of Locke's simple ideas, 

1 The association of science and philosophy with leisure, \ f 
|. - with a certain economic surplus, is not accidental. It is 
practically worth while to postpone practice; to substitute 
theorizing, to develop a new and fascinating mode of prac- 
tice. But it is the excess achievement of practice which 
makes this postponement and substitution possible. 


or Hume's " distinct ideas which are separate 
existences." Smells apparently assume an inde- 

- pendent, isolated status during this period of in- 
vestigation. " Sensations," as the laboratory psy- 
chologist and the analytic psychologist generally 
studies them, are examples of just such detached 
things. But egregious error results if we forget 
that this seeming isolation and detachment is the 
outcome of a deliberate scientific device — that it is 
simply a part of the scientific technique of an in- 
quiry directed upon securing tested conclusions. 
Just and only because odors (or any group of 
qualities) are parts of a connected world are 
they signs of things beyond themselves; and only 
because they are signs is it profitable and necessary 
to study them as if they were complete, self-en- 
closed entities. 

In the reflective determination of things with 
reference to their specifically meaning other things, 
experiences of fulfilment, disappointment, and go- 
ing astray inevitably play an important and recur- 
rent role. They also are realistic facts, related in 
realistic ways to the things that intend to mean 
other things and to the things intended. When 

i these fulfilments and refusals are reflected upon in 
the determinate relations in which they stand to 
their relevant meanings, they obtain a quality which 
is quite lacking to them in their immediate occur- 
rence as just fulfilments or disappointments ; viz., 


the property of affording assurance and correction 
— of confirming and refuting. Truth and falsity 
are not properties of any experience or thing, in 
and of itself or in its first intention ; but of things 

7 where the problem of assurance consciously enters 
in. Truth and falsity present themselves as sig- 
nificant facts only m situations m which specific 
meanings and their already experienced fulfilments 
and non-fulfilments are intentionally compared and 
contrasted with reference to the question of the 
worth, as to reliability of meaning, of the given 
meaning or class of meanings. Like knowledge 

I itself, truth is an experienced relation of things, 
and it has no meaning outside of such relation, 1 any 
more than such adjectives as comfortable applied 
to a lodging, correct applied to speech, persuasive 
applied to an orator, etc., have worth apart from 
the specific things to which they are applied. It 
would be a great gain for logic and epistemology, 
• if we were always to translate the noun " truth " 

'back into the adjective " true," and this back into 
the adverb " truly " ; at least, if we were to do so 
until we have familiarized ourselves thoroughly 

1 It is the failure to grasp the coupling of truth of mean- 
\ ing with a specific promise, undertaking, or intention ex- 
pressed by a thing which underlies, so far as I can see, 
the criticisms passed upon the experimental or pragmatic 
view of the truth. It is the same failure which is re- 
sponsible for the wholly at large view of truth which char- 
acterizes the absolutists, 


with the fact that " truth " is an abstract noun, 
summarizing a quality presented by specific affairs 
in their own specific contents. 


I have attempted, in the foregoing pages, a de- 
scription of the function of knowledge in its own 
terms and on its merits — a description which in 
intention is realistic, if by realistic we are content 
to mean naturalistic, a description undertaken on 
the basis of what Mr. Santayana has well called 
" following the lead of the subject-matter." Un- 
fortunately at the present time all such undertak- 
ings contend with a serious extraneous obstacle. 
Accomplishing the undertaking has difficulties 
enough of its own to reckon with ; and first attempts 
are sure to be imperfect, if not radically wrong. 
But at present the attempts are not, for the most 
part, even listened to on their own account, they 
are not examined and criticised as naturalistic at- 
tempts. They are compared with undertakings of 
a wholly different nature, with an epistemological 
theory of knowledge, and the assumptions of this 
extraneous theory are taken as a ready-made stand- 
ard by which to test their validity. Literally of 
course, " epistemology " means only theory of 
knowledge; the term might therefore have been 
employed simply as a synonym for a descriptive 


logic; for a theory that takes knowledge as it 
finds it and attempts to give the same kind of an 
account of it that would be given of any other natu- 
ral function or occurrence. But the mere mention 
of what might have been only accentuates what is. 
The things that pass for epistemology all assume 

~ that knowledge is not a natural function or event, 
but a mystery. 

Epistemology starts from the assumption that 
certain conditions lie back of knowledge. The 
mystery would be great enough if knowledge were 
constituted by non-natural conditions back of 
knowledge, but the mystery is increased by the fact 

I that the conditions are defined so as to be incom- 
patible with knowledge. Hence the primary 
problem of epistemology is: How is knowledge 
uberhaupt, knowledge at large, possible? Because 
of the incompatibility between the concrete occur- 
rence and function of knowledge and the conditions 
back of it to which it must conform, a second 
problem arises: How is knowledge in general, 
knowledge uberhaupt, valid? Hence the complete 
divorce in contemporary thought between epis- 
temology as theory of knowledge and logic as an 
account of the specific ways in which particular 
beliefs that are better than other alternative beliefs 
regarding the same matters are formed; and also 

(the complete divorce between a naturalistic, a bio- 
logical and social psychology, setting forth how 


the function of knowledge is evolved out of other 
natural activities, and epistemology as an account 
of how knowledge is possible anyhow. 

It is out of the question to set forth in this place 
in detail the contrast between transcendental epis- 
temology and an experimental theory of knowl- 
edge. It may assist the understanding of the lat- 
ter, however, if I point out, baldly and briefly, how, 
out of the distinctively empirical situation, there 
arise those assumptions which make knowledge a 
mystery, and hence a topic for a peculiar branch 
of philosophizing. 

As just pointed out, epistemology makes the 
possibility of knowledge a problem, because it 
assumes back of knowledge conditions incompatible 
with the obvious traits of knowledge as it em- 
pirically exists. These assumptions are that the 
organ or instrument of knowledge is not a natural 
object, but some ready-made state of mind or con- 
sciousness, something purely " subjective," a pecu- 
liar kind of existence which lives, moves, and has 
its being in a realm different from things to be 
known; and that the ultimate goal and content 
of knowledge is a fixed, ready-made thing which 
has no organic connections with the origin, pur- 
pose, and growth of the attempt to know it, some 
kind of Ding-an-sich or absolute, extra-empirical 

(1) It is not difficult to see at what point in 


the development of natural knowledge, or the signi- 
fying of one thing by another, there arises the 
notion of the knowing medium as something rad- 
ically different in the order of existence from the 
^ thing to be known. It arises subsequent to the re- 
^ y peated experience of non-fulfilment, of frustration 
and disappointment. The odor did not after all 
mean the rose ; it meant something quite different ; 
and yet its indicative function was exercised so 
forcibly that we could not help — or at least did 
not help — believing in the existence of the rose. 
This is a familiar and typical kind of experience, 
one which very early leads to the recognition that 
" things are not what they seem." There are 
two contrasted methods of dealing with this recog- 
nition: one is the method indicated above (p. 93). 
We go more thoroughly, patiently, and carefully 
into the facts of the case. We employ all sorts 
of methods, invented for the purpose, of examin- 
ing the things that are signs and the things that 
are signified, and we experimentally produce vari- 
ous situations, in order that we may tell what smells 
mean roses when roses are meant, what it is about 
the smell and the rose that led us into error; and 
that we may be able to discriminate those cases in 
which a suspended conclusion is all that circum- 
stances admit. We simply do the best we can to '■ 
regulate our system of signs so that they become as 
instructive as possible, utilizing for this purpose 


(as indicated above) all possible experiences of 
success and of failure, and deliberately instituting 
cases which will throw light on the specific em- 
pirical causes of success and failure. 

Now it so happens that when the facts of error 
were consciously generalized and formulated, 
namely in Greek thought, such a technique of spe- 
cific inquiry and rectification did not exist — in fact, 
it hardly could come into existence until after error 
had been seized upon as constituting a funda- 
mental anomaly. Hence the method just outlined 
of dealing with the situation was impossible. We 
can imagine disconsolate ghosts willing to postpone 
any professed solution of the difficulty till subse- 
quent generations have thrown more light on the 
question itself; we can hardly imagine passionate 
human beings exercising such reserve. At all 
events, Greek thought provided what seemed a sat- 
isfactory way out: there are two orders of ex- 
istence, one permanent and complete, the noumenal 
region, to which alone the characteristic of Being 
is properly applicable, the other transitory, phe- 
nomenal, sensible, a region of non-Being, or at 
least of mere Coming-to-be, a region in which Be- 
ing is hopelessly mixed with non-Being, with the 
unreal. The former alone is the domain of knowl- 
edge, of truth ; the latter is the territory of opinion, 
confusion, and error. In short, the contrast with- 
in experience of the cases in which things sue- 


cessfully and unsuccessfully maintained and exe- 
cuted the meanings of other things was erected into 
a wholesale difference of status in the intrinsic 
characters of the things involved in the two types 
of cases. 

With the beginnings of modern thought, the 
region of the " unreal," the source of opinion and 
error, was located exclusively in the individual. 
The object was all real and all satisfactory, but 
the " subject " could approach the object only 
through his own subjective states, his " sensa- 
tions " and " ideas." The Greek conception of 
two orders of existence was retained, but instead 
of the two orders characterizing the " universe " 
itself, one was the universe, the other was the 
individual mind trying to know that universe. 
This scheme would obviously easily account for 
error and hallucination ; but how could knowledge, 
truth, ever come about such a basis? The Greek 
problem of the possibility of error became 
the modern problem of the possibility of knowl- 

Putting the matter in terms that are inde- 
pendent of history, experiences of failure, disap- 
pointment, non-fulfilment of the function of mean- 
ing and contention may lead the individual to the 
path of science — to more careful and extensive 
investigation of the things themselves, with a view 
to detecting specific sources of error, and guard- 


ing against them, and regulating, so far as 
possible, the conditions under which objects are 
bearers of meanings beyond themselves. But im- 
patient of such slow and tentative methods (which 
4 insure not infallibility but increased probability of 
valid conclusions), by reason of disappointment 
^^ a person may turn epistemologist. He may then 
take the discrepancy, the failure of the smell to 
execute its own intended meaning, as a wholesale, 
rather than as a specific fact: as evidence of a 
? contrast in general between things meaning and 
things meant, instead of as evidence of the need 
of a more cautious and thorough inspection of 
odors and execution of operations indicated by 
them. One may then say: Woe is me; smells are 
only my smells, subjective states existing in an 
order of being made out of consciousness, while 
i roses exist in another order made out of a radically 
different sort of stuff; or, odors are made out of 
" finite " consciousness as their stuff, while the real 
things, the objects which fulfil them, are made out 
of an " infinite " consciousness as their material. 
Hence some purely metaphysical tie has to be called 
in to bring them into connection with each other. 
And yet this tie does not concern knowledge; it 
does not make the meaning of one odor any more 
correct than that of another, nor enable us to 
discriminate relative degrees of correctness. As 
a principle of control, this transcendental connec- 


tion is related to all alike, and hence condemns and 
justifies all alike. 1 

It is interesting to note that the transcenden- 
talist almost invariably first falls into the psycho- 
logical fallacy ; and then having himself taken the 
psychologist's attitude (the attitude which is m- 
I terested in meanings as themselves self -inclosed 
" ideas ") accuses the empiricist whom he criticises 
of having confused mere psychological existence 
with logical validity. That is, he begins by sup- 
posing that the smell of our illustration (and all 
the cognitional objects for which this is used as a 

1 The belief in the metaphysical transcendence of the ob- 
ject of knowledge seems to have its real origin in an 
empirical transcendence of a very specific and describable 
sort. The thing meaning is one thing; the thing meant is 
s another thing, and is (as already pointed out) a thing pre- 

i sented as not given in the same way as is the thing which 
means. It is something to be so given. No amount of care- 
ful and thorough inspection of the indicating and signifying 
things can remove or annihilate this gap. The probability 

« of correct meaning may be increased in varying degrees — 

1 and this is what we mean by control. But final certi- 
tude can never be reached except experimentally — except by 
performing the operations indicated and discovering whether 
or no the intended meaning is fulfilled in propria persona. 
In this experimental sense, truth or the object of any given 

i meaning is always beyond or outside of the cognitional thing 
that means it. Error as well as truth is a necessary 
function of knowing. But the non-empirical account of 
this transcendent (or beyond) relationship puts all the 
error in one place (oi*r knowledge), and all the truth in 
another (absolute consciousness or else a thing-in-itself). 


symbol) is a purely mental or psychical state, 
so that the question of logical reference or inten- 
tion is the problem of how the merely mental can 
" know " the extra-mental. But from a strictly 
empirical point of view, the smell which knows is 
no more merely mental than is the rose known. 
We may, if we please, say that the smell when 

I involving conscious meaning or intention is " men- 
tal," but this term " mental " does not denote some 
separate type of existence — existence as a state of 
consciousness. It denotes only the fact that the 
smell, a real and non-psychical object, now exer- 
cises an intellectual fimction. This new property 

j involves, as James has pointed out, an additive 
relation — a new property possessed by a non- 
mental object, when that object, occurring in 
a new context, assumes a further office and 
use. 1 To be " in the mind " means to be in a 
situation in which the function of intending is 
directly concerned. 2 Will not some one who be- 
lieves that the knowing experience is ab origine a 
strictly " mental " thing, explain how, as matter 
of fact, it does get a specific, extra-mental refer- 
ence, capable of being tested, confirmed, or re- 

1 Compare his essay, "Does Consciousness Exist?" in 
the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific 
Methods, Vol. I., p. 480. 

'Compare the essay on the "Problem of Consciousness," 
by Professor Woodbridge, in the Garman Memorial Volume, 
entitled " Studies in Philosophy and Psychology." 


futed? Or, if he believes that viewing it as 
merely mental expresses only the form it takes 
for psychological analysis, will he not explain 
why he so persistently attributes the inherently 
" mental " characterization of it to the empiricist 
whom he criticises? An object becomes meaning 
when used empirically in a certain way ; and, under 
certain circumstances, the exact character and 
worth of this meaning becomes an object of solici- 
tude. But the transcendental epistemologist with 
his purely psychical " meanings " and his purely 
extra-empirical " truths " assumes a Deus ex Ma- 
china whose mechanism is preserved a secret. And 
as if to add to the arbitrary character of his as- 
sumption, he has to admit that the transcendental 
a priori faculty by which mental states get ob- 
jective reference does not in the least help us to 
discriminate, in the concrete, between an objective 
reference that is false and one that is valid. 

(2) The counterpart assumption to that of pure 
aboriginal " mental states " is, of course, that of 
an Absolute Reality, fixed and complete in itself, 
of which our " mental states " are bare transitory 
hints, their true meaning and their transcendent 
goal being the Truth in rerum natura. If the 
organ and medium of knowing is a self-inclosed 
order of existence different in kind from the Object 
to be known, then that Object must stand out there 
in complete aloofness from the concrete purpose 


and procedure of knowing it. But if we go back to 
the knowing as a natural occurrence, capable of 
description, we find that just as a smell does not 
mean Rose in general (or anything else at large), 

I but means a specific group of qualities whose ex- 
perience is intended and anticipated, so the func- 
tion of knowing is always expressed in connections 

| between a given experience and a specific possible 
wanted experience. The " rose " that is meant in a 
particular situation it the rose of that situation. 
When this experience is consummated, it is achieved 
as the fulfilment of the conditions in which just 

* that intention was entertained — not as the fulfil- 
ment of a faculty of knowledge or a meaning in 
general. Subsequent meanings and subsequent ful- 
filments may increase, may enrich the consummat- 
ing experience; the object or content of the rose 
as known may be other and fuller next time and 
so on. But we have no right to set up " a rose " 
at large or in general as the object of the knowing 
odor; the object of a knowledge is always strictly 
correlative to that particular thing which means it. 
It is not something which can be put in a wholesale 
way over against that which cognitively refers to 
it, as when the epistemologist puts the " real " rose 
(object) over against a merely phenomenal or em- 
pirical rose which this smell happens to mean. As 
I the meaning gets more complex, fuller, more finely 
discriminated, the object which realizes or fulfils 


the meaning grows similarly in quality. But we 
cannot set up a rose, an object of fullest, complete, 

i and exhaustive content as that which is really 
meant by any and every odor of a rose, whether 
it consciously meant to mean it or not. The test 
of the cognitional rectitude of the odor lies in the 
specific object which it sets out to secure. This 
is the meaning of the statement that the import of 

— each term is found in its relationship to the other. 
It applies to object meant as well as to the mean- 
ing. Fulfilment, completion are always relative 
terms. Hence the criterion of the truth or falsity 
of the meaning, of the adequacy, of the cognitional 
i thing lies zdthin the relationships of the situation 
and not without. The thing that means another 
by means of an intervening operation either suc- 
ceeds or fails in accomplishing the operation in- 
dicated, while this operation either gives or fails 
to give the object meant. Hence the truth or 
falsity of the original cognitional object. 


From this excursion, I return in conclusion to a 
brief general characterization of those situations 
in which we are aware that things mean other 
things and are so critically aware of it that, in 
order to increase the probability of fulfilment and 
to decrease the chance of frustration, all possible 


pains are taken to regulate the meanings that at- 
tach to things. These situations define that type 
of knowing which we call scientific. There are 
things that claim to mean other experiences; in 
which the trait of meaning other objects is not dis- 
covered ab extra, and after the event, but is part of 
the thing itself. This trait of the thing is as real- 
istic, as specific, as any other of its traits. It is, 
therefore, as open to inspection and determination 
as to its nature, as is any other trait. Moreover, 
since it is upon this trait that assurance (as distinct 
from accident) of fulfilment depends, an especial 
interest, an absorbing interest, attaches to its de- 
termination. Hence the scientific type of knowl- 
edge and its growing domination over other sorts. 
We employ meanings in all intentional construc- 
tions of experience — in all anticipations, whether 
artistic, utilitarian or technological, social or 
moral. The success of the anticipation is found 
to depend upon the character of the meaning. 
Hence the stress upon a right determination of 
these meanings. Since they are the instruments 
upon which fulfilment depends so far as that is 
controlled or other than accidental, they become 
themselves objects of surpassing interest. For all 
persons at some times, and for one class of persons 
(scientists) at almost all times, the determination 
of the meanings employed in the control of ful- 
filments (of acting upon meanings) is central. 


The experimental or pragmatic theory of knowl- 
edge explains the dominating importance of sci- 
ence; it does not depreciate it or explain it away. 

Possibly pragmatic writers are to blame for the 
tendency of their critics to assume that the practice 
they have in mind is utilitarian in some narrow 
sense, referring to some preconceived and inferior 
use — though I cannot recall any evidence for this 
admission. But what the pragmatic theory has in 
mind is precisely the fact that all the affairs of 
life which need regulation — all values of all types 
— depend upon utilizations of meanings. Action 
is not to be limited to anything less than the carry- 
ing out of ideas, than the execution, whether stren- 
uous or easeful, of meanings. Hence the surpass- 
ing importance which comes to attach to the care- 
ful, impartial construction of the meanings, and to 
their constant survey and resurvey with reference 
to their value as evidenced by experiences of ful- 
filment and deviation. 

That truth denotes truths, that is, specific veri- 
fications, combinations of meanings and outcomes 
reflectively viewed, is, one may say, the central 
point of the experimental theory. Truth, in gen- 
eral or in the abstract, is a just name for an ex- 
perienced relation among the things of experience : 
that sort of relation in which intents are retro- 
spectively viewed from the standpoint of the ful- 
filment which they secure through their own natural 



operation or incitement. Thus the experimental 
theory explains directly and simply the absolutistic 
tendency to translate concrete true things into the 
general relationship, Truth, and then to hyposta- 
tize this abstraction into identity with real being, 
Truth per se and m se y of which all transitory 
things and events — that is, all experienced realities 
— are only shadowy futile approximations. This 
type of relationship is central for man's will, for 
man's conscious endeavor. To select, to conserve, 
to extend, to propagate those meanings which the 
course of events has generated, to note their pecu- 
liarities, to be in advance on the alert for them, to 
search for them anxiously, to substitute them for 
meanings that eat up our energy in vain, defines 
the aim of rational effort and the goal of legitimate 
ambition. The absolutistic theory is the transfer 
of this moral or voluntary law of selective action 
into a quasi-physical (that is, metaphysical) law 
of indiscriminate being. Identify metaphysical be- 
ing with significant excellent being — that is, with 
those relationships of things which, in our moments 
of deepest insight and largest survey, we would 
continue and reproduce — and the experimentalist, 
rather than the absolutist, is he who has a right 
to proclaim the supremacy of Truth, and the su- 
periority of the life devoted to Truth for its own 
sake over that of " mere " activity. But to read 
back into an order of things which exists without 


the participation of our reflection and aim, the 
quality which defines the purpose of our thought 
and endeavor is at one and the same stroke to 
mythologize reality and to deprive the life of 
thoughtful endeavor of its ground for being. 


AMONG the influences that have worked in 
contemporary philosophy towards disinte- 
gration of intellectualism of the epistemological 
type, and towards the substitution of a philosophy 
of experience, the work of Mr. Bradley must be 
seriously counted. One has, for example, only to 
compare his metaphysics with the two fundamental 
contentions of T. H. Green, namely, that reality 
is a single, eternal, and all-inclusive system of 
relations, and that this system of relations is one 
in kind with that process of relating which consti- 
tutes our thinking, to be instantly aware of a 
changed atmosphere. Much of Bradley's writings 
is a sustained and deliberate polemic against in- 
tellectualism of the Neo-Kantian type. When, 
however, we find conjoined to this criticism an 

1 Reprinted, with many changes, from an article in Mind, 
Vol. XVI., N.S., July 1907. Although the changes have 
been made to render the article less technical, it still re- 
mains, I fear, too technical to be intelligible to those not 
familiar with recent discussions of logical theory. 



equally sustained contention that the philosophic 
conception of reality must be based on an exclu- 
sively intellectual criterion, a criterion belonging 

' to and confined to theory, we have a situation that 
is thought-provoking. The situation grows in in- 
terest when it is remembered that there is a general 
and growing tendency among those who appeal in 
philosophy to a strictly intellectualistic method of 
defining " reality," to insist that the reality reached 

« by this method has a super-intellectual content: 
that intellectual, affectional, and volitional fea- 
tures are all joined and fused in " ultimate " real- 
ity. The curious character of the situation is that 
Reality is an " absolute experience " of which the 

* intellectual is simply one partial and transmuted 
moment. Yet this reality is attained unto, in philo- 
sophic method, by exclusive emphasis upon the in- 
tellectual aspect of present experience and by sys- 
tematic exclusion of exactly the emotional, volitional 
features which with respect to content are insisted 
upon! Under such circumstances the cynically- 
minded are moved to wonder whether this tremen- 
dous insistence upon one factor in present ex- 
perience at the expense of others, is not because 
this is the only way to maintain the notion of 
" Absolute Experience," and to prevent it from col- 
lapsing into ordinary every-day experience. This 
paradox is not peculiar to Mr. Bradley. Looking 
at the Neo-Kantian movement in the broad in its 


modern form, one might almost say that its prom- 
inent feature is its insistence upon reaching- a 
'* Reality " that includes extra-intellectual fac- 
tors and phases, traits that are ideal in a moral 
and emotional sense, by an exclusive recognition of 
the function of knowledge in its isolation. 

Such being the case, an examination of Mr. 
Bradley's method and criterion may have far- 
reaching implications. First, let us set before 
ourselves the general points of Mr. Bradley's in- 
dictment of intellectualism. 1 Knowledge or judg- 
ment works by means of thought ; it is predication 
of idea (meaning) of existence as its subject. Its 
final aim is to effect a complete union or harmony 
of existence and meaning. But it is fore-doomed 
to failure, for in realizing its end it must employ 
means which contradict its own purpose. This 
inherent incapacity lurks in judgment with respect 
to subject, predicate, and copula. The predicate 
or meaning necessary to complete the reality pre- 
sented in the subject can be referred to the latter 

* and united with it only by being itself alienated 
from existence. It heals the wounds or deficiencies 
of its own subject (and in the end all deficiencies 
are to the modern idealist discrepancies) only on 
condition of inflicting another wound, — only by 

v sundering meaning from a prior union with exist- 

*I follow chiefly Chapter XV. of "Appearance and 
Reality "—the chapter on " Thought and Reality." 


ence in some other phase. This latter existence, 
therefore, is always left out in the cold. It is as 
if we wanted to get all the cloth in the world into 
one garment and our only way of accomplishing 
this were to tear off a portion from one piece of 
goods in order to patch it on to another. 

The subject of the judgment, moreover, as well 
as the predicate, stands in the way of judgment 
fulfilling its own task. It has " sensuous infini- 
tude " and it has " immediacy," but these two 
traits contradict each other. The details of the 
subject always go beyond itself, being indefinitely 
related to something beyond. " In its given con- 

i tent it has relations which do not terminate within 
that content" (ibid., p. 176), while in its imme- 

* diacy it presents an undivided union of existence 
and meaning. No subject can be mere existence 
any more than it can be mere meaning. It is al- 
ways existent or embodied meaning. As such it 
claims individuality or the character of a single 
subsistent whole. But this indispensable claim is 
inconsistent with its ragged-edged character, its 
indefinite external reference, which is indispensable 
to it as subject that it may require and receive 
further meaning from predication. 

With respect to the copula the following quo- 
tation from the " Principles " of Logic (p. 10) 
may serve : " Judgment proper is the act which 
refers the ideal content (recognized as such) to the 


reality beyond the act." In other words, judg- 
ment as act (and it is the act which is expressed 
in the copula) must always fall outside of 
the content of knowledge as such; yet since this 
act certainly falls within reality, it would have to 
be recognized and stated by any knowledge pre- 
tending to competency with respect to reality as a 
whole. These considerations, stated in this way, 
are highly technical and presuppose a knowledge 
not merely of Mr. Bradley's own logic, but also of 
the logical analysis of knowledge initiated by Kant 
and carried on by Herbart, Lotze, and others. 
Their main import may, however, be stated in 
comparatively non-technical form. Human ex- 
perience is full of discrepancies. Were experience 
purely a matter of brute existence (such as we some- 
times imagine the animals' experience to be) it 
would be totally lacking in meaning and there 
would be no problems, no thinking, no occasion for 
thinking, and hence no philosophy. On the other 
hand, if experience were a complete, tight- join ted 
union of existence and meaning, there would be 
no dissatisfaction, no problems, no cause for efforts 
to patch up defects and contradictions. Existences, 
things, would embody all the meanings that they 
suggest; while abstract meanings, values that are 
merely ideal, that are projected or thought of 
but not fulfilled, would be totally unheard of. But 
our experience stands in marked contrast to both 


these types of experience. It is neither an affair 
< of meaningless existence nor of existence self-lumi- 
nous with fulfilled meaning. All things that we 
experience have some meaning, but that meaning 
is always so partially embodied in things that we 
cannot rest in them. They point beyond them- 
selves; they indicate meanings which they do not 
fulfil; they suggest values which they fail to em- 
body, and when we go to other things for the 
fruition of what is denied, we either find the same 
situation of division over again, or we find even 
more positive disappointment and frustration — we 
find contrary meanings set up. Now all thinking 
grows out of this discrepancy between existence 
and the meaning which it partially embodies and 
partially refuses, which it suggests but declines to 
express. Yet thinking, the mode of bringing ex- 
istence and meaning into harmony with each other, 
i always works by selection, by abstraction; it sets 
up and projects meanings which are ideal only, 
footless, in the air, matters of thought only, not of 
sentiency or immediate existence. It emphasizes 
the ideal of a completed union of existence and 
meaning, but is helpless to effect it. And this 
helplessness (according to Mr. Bradley) is not due 
to external pressure but to the very structure of 
thought itself. 

From every point of view knowledge operates 
under conditions, (and these not externally imposed 


\ but inherent in its own nature as judgment,) that 
render it incapable of realizing its aim of complete 
union of existence and meaning. Granted the 
argument, and it is difficult to imagine a more 
serious indictment against the pretensions of phi- 
losophy to reach " Reality " via the exclusive path 
of knowledge. 

The presence of contradiction is Mr. Bradley's 

\ criterion for " appearance," just as its absence 
is his criterion for " reality." It thus goes with- 
out saying that knowledge and truth which we can 
attain are matters of appearance. Contradiction 
between existence and meaning is its last word. 
This is not merely a logical deduction from Mr. 
Bradley's position, but is expressly stated by him. 
" Thus the truth belongs to existence, but it does 
not as such exist. . . . Truth shows a dis- 
section but never an actual life " ( " Appearance 
and Reality," p. 167). Again, "every truth is 

| appearance since in it we have divorce of quality 
from being" {ibid., p. 187). "Even absolute 
truth seems in the end to turn out erroneous. 
. . . Internal discrepancy belongs irremovably 
to truth's proper character. . . . Truth is 
one aspect of experience and is therefore made im- 
perfect and limited by what it fails to include " 
(iow?., pp. 544-545). Nothing could be more 
explicit as to the inherently contradictory char- 
acter of truth ? both as an ideal and as an accom- 


plished fact; nothing more positive as to the un- 
reality or appearance-character of truth. We 
cannot, on Mr. Bradley's method, stop here. Not 
only is knowledge — working as it does through 
thought which is always partial, selective, abstrac- 
tive^ — doomed to failure in accomplishing its task, 
but the existence of the contradiction between the 

s suggestion of meanings by existence and this reali- 
zation in existence is itself due to thought. 

Speaking of thought he says : " The relational 
form is a compromise on which thought stands and 
which it develops." And all the particular anti- 
nomies which he discusses are interpreted as having 

1 their basis in the category of relation (ibid., 
p. 180). In his section on Appearance he goes 
through various aspects and distinctions of the 
world, such as primary and secondary qualities, 
substance and its properties, relation and qualita- 
tive elements, space and time, motion and change, 
causation, etc., pointing out irreconcilable discrep- 
ancies in them. He does not, in a generalized way, 
expressly refer them to any common source or root. 
But it seems a fair inference that the relational 

f character of thought is at the bottom of the whole 
trouble: so that we have in the cases mentioned 
precisely the same situation in concreto which 
is set forth in abstracto in the discussion of 
thought. The contradictions brought up are in 
every case resolved into the fundamental discrep- 


ancy supposed to exist between relations and ele- 
ments related. In each case there is the ideal of 
a final unity in which relations and elements as 
such disappear, while in every case the nature of 
relation is such as to prevent the desired con- 
summation. In at least one place, it is expressly 
declared that it is the knowledge function which is 
responsible for the degradation of reality to ap- 
pearance. " We do not suggest that the thing 
always itself is an appearance. We mean its 
character is such that it becomes one as soon as 
we judge it. And this character we have seen 
throughout our work, is ideality. Appearance 
consists in the looseness of content from existence. 
... And we have found that everywhere 
throughout the world such ideality prevails " 
(ibid., p. 486, italics not in the original). It 
is not then strictly true that the divorce of mean- 
ing and existence instigates thought; rather 
thought is the unruly member that creates the 
divorce and then engages in the task (in which it 
is self-condemned to failure) of trying to establish 
the unity which it has gratuitously destroyed. 
Thinking, self-consciousness, is disease of the naive 
unity of thoughtless experience. 

On the one hand there is a systematic discredit- 
ing of the ultimate claims of the knowledge func- 
tion, and this not from external physiological or 
psychological reasons such as are sometimes alleged 


against its capacity, but on the basis of its own 
interior logic. But on the other hand, a strictly 
logical criterion is deliberately adopted and em- 

I ployed as the fundamental and final criterion for 
the philosophic conception of reality. Long fa- 
miliarity has not dulled my astonishment at finding 
exactly the same set of considerations which in 
the earlier portion of the book are employed to 
condemn things as experienced by us to the region 
of Appearance, employed in the latter portion of 

I the book to afford a triumphant demonstration of 
the existence and character of Absolute Reality. 
The argument I take up first on its formal side, 
and then with reference to material considerations. 1 
The positive conception of Reality is reached 
by the conception that "ultimate reality must be , 
such that it does not contradict itself; here is an 
absolute criterion. And it is proved absolute by 
the fact that either in endeavoring to deny it or 
even in attempting to doubt it, we tacitly assume 
its validity" (ibid., pp. 136-137). That is to 
say, when one sets out to think one must avoid self- 
contradiction ; this avoidance, or, put positively, 
the attainment of consistency, harmony, is the basic « 
law of all thinking. Since in thinking we set out 
to attain reality, it follows that reality itself 
must be self-consistent, and that its self-consistency 

1 The crux of the argument is contained in Chapters XIII. 
and XIV., on the " General Nature of Reality." 


determines the law of thought. Or, as Mr. Brad- 
ley again puts the matter, " In order to think at 
all you must subject yourself to the standard, a 
standard which implies an absolute knowledge of 
reality; and while you doubt this, you accept it, 
and obey, while you rebel" (ibid., p. 153). 
The absolute knowledge referred to is, of course, 
the knowledge of the thoroughly self-consistent, 
non-contradictory character of reality. Every 
reader of Mr. Bradley's book knows how he goes 
on from this point to supply positive content to 
reality ; to give an outline sketch of the characters 
it must possess and the way in which it must possess 
them in order to maintain its thoroughly self- 
consistent character. It is, however, only the 
strictly formal aspect of the matter that I am 
here concerned with. 

On this side we reach, I think, the heart of the 
matter by asking, in reference to the first quota- 
tion : Absolute for what? Surely absolute for the 
J process under consideration, that is absolute for 
thought. But the significance of this absolute for 
thought is, one may say, " absolutely " (since we 
are here confessedly in the realm just of thought) 
determined by the nature of thought itself. Now 
this nature has been already referred by considera- 
tions " belonging irremovably to truth's proper 
character," to the world of appearance and of in- 
ternal discrepancy. Yes, one may say (speaking 


formally), the criterion of thought is absolute — 
that is to say absolute or final for thought; but 
how can one imagine that this in any way alters 
the essential nature and value of thought? If 
knowledge works by thought, and thought institutes 
appearance over against reality, any further fact 
about thought — such as a statement of its criterion 
— falls wholly within the limits of this situation. 
It is comical to suppose that a special trait of 
thought can be employed to alter the fundamental 
and essential nature of thought. The criterion of 
thought must be infected by the nature of thought, 
instead of being a redeeming angel which at a 
critical juncture transforms the fragile creature, 
thought, into an ambassador with power plenipo- 
tentiary to the court of the Absolute. 

There really seems to be ground for supposing 
that the whole argument turns on an ambiguity 
in the use of the word " absolute." Keeping 
strictly within the limits of the argument, it means 
nothing more than that thinking has a certain 
principle, a law of its own ; that it has an appro- 
priate mode of procedure which must not be vio- 
lated. It means, in short, whatever is finally con- 
trolling for the thought- function. But Mr. Brad- 
ley immediately takes the word to mean absolute 
I in the sense of describing a reality which by its very 
nature is totally contradistinguished from appear- 
ance — that is to say, from the realm of thought. 



Upon the ambiguity of a word, the systematic in- 
dictment of intellectualism becomes the corner- 
stone of a systematically intellectualistic method of 
conceiving reality! 

Mr. Bradley has himself recognized the seeming 
contradiction between his indictment of thought 
and his use of the criterion of thought as the ex- 
clusive path to a philosophic notion of the real. 
In dealing with it, he (to my mind) comes within 
an ace of stating a truer doctrine, and also ex- 
hibits even more clearly the weakness of his own 
position. He goes so far as to put the follow- 
ing words into the mouth of an objector, and to 
accept their general import : " All axioms, as a 
matter of fact, are practical . . . for none of 
them in the end can amount to more than the im- 
pulse to behave in a certain way. And they can- 
not express more than this impulse, together with 
the impossibility of satisfaction unless it is com- 
plied with" (p. 151). After accepting this (p. 
152) he goes on to say: "Take for example the 
law of avoiding contradiction. When two elements 
will not remain quietly together, but collide and 
struggle, we cannot rest satisfied with that state. 
Our impulse is to alter it and, on the theoretical 
side, to bring the content to such shape that the 
variety remains peaceably in one. And this in- 
ability to rest otherwise and this tendency to alter 
in a certain way and direction is, when reflected 


upon and made explicit, our axiom and our in- 
tellectual standard " (p. 152 ; italics mine). 

The retort is obvious: if the intellectual cri- 
terion, the principle of non-contradiction on which 
his whole Absolute Reality rests, is itself a prac- 
tical principle, then surely the ultimate criterion 
for regulating intellectual undertakings is prac- 
tical. To this obvious answer Mr. Bradley makes 
reply as follows : " You may call the intellect, if 
you like, a mere tendency to a movement, but you 
must remember that it is a movement of a very 
special kind. . . . Thinking is the attempt 
to satisfy a special impulse, and the attempt im- 
plies an assumption about reality. . . . But 
why, it may be objected, is this assumption better 
than what holds for practice? Why is the theo- 
retical to be superior to the practical end ? I have 
never said that this is so, only here, that is, in meta- 
physics, I must be allowed to reply, we are acting 
theoretically. . . . The theoretical standard 
within theory must surely be absolute " (p. 153. 
The italics again are mine ; compare with the quo- 
tation this, from p. 485 : " Our attitude, however, 
in metaphysics must be theoretical." So, also, p. 
154, " Since metaphysics is mere theory and since 
theory from its nature must be made by the intel- 
lect, it is here the intellect alone which is to be 

Grant that intellect is a special movement or 



mode of practice; grant that we are not merely 
acting (are we ever merely acting?) but are " spe- 
cially occupied and therefore subject to special con- 
ditions," and the problem remains what special kind 
of activity is thinking? what is its experienced' 
differentia from other kinds ? what is its commerce 
with them? When the problem is what special kind 
of an activity is thinking and of what nature is the 
consistency which is its criterion, somehow we do 
not get forward by being told that thinking if a 
special mode of practice and that its criterion is 
consistency. The unquestioned presupposition of 
Mr. Bradley is that thinking is such a wholly sep- 
> arate activity (the " intellect alone " which has to 
be satisfied), that to give it autonomy is to say 
that it, and its criterion, have nothing to do with 
other activities ; that it is " independent " as to 
• criterion, in a way which excludes interdependence 
i in function and outcome. Unless the term " spe- 
cial " be interpreted to mean isolated, to say that 
thinking is a special mode of activity no more nulli- 
fies the proposition that it arises in a practical con- 
test and operates for practical ends, than to say 
that blacksmithing is a special activity, negates its 
being one connected mode of industrial activity. 

fHis underlying presupposition of the separate 
character of thought comes out in the passage last 
quoted. " Our impulse," he says, " is to alter the 
conflicting situation and, on the theoretical side, 


to bring its contents into peaceable unity." If 
one substitutes for the word " on " the word 
4 " through," one gets a conception of theory and 
of thmEing that does justice to the autonomy 
of the operation and yet so connects it with other 
activities as to give it a serious business, real pur- 
pose, and concrete responsibility and hence testi- 
bility. From this point of view the theoretical 
activity is simply the form that certain practical 
activities take after colliding, as the most effective 
and fruitful way of securing their own harmoniza- 
tion. The collision is not theoretical ; the issue in 
" peaceable unity " is not theoretical. But theory 
names the type of activity by which the trans- 
formation from war to peace is most amply and 
securely effected. 1 

Admit, however, the force of Mr. Bradley's 
contention on its own terms and see how futile is 

1 The same point comes out in Mr. Bradley's treatment 
of the way in which the practical demand for the good or 
satisfaction is to be taken account of in a philosophical con- 
ception of the nature of reality. He admits that it comes 
in; but holds that it enters not directly, but because if left 
outside it indirectly introduces a feature of " discontent " 
on the intellectual side (see p. 155). This, as an argument 
for the supremacy of the isolated theoretical standard, loses 
all its force if we cease to conceive of intellect as from 
the start an independent function, and realize that intel- 
lectual discontent is the practical conflict becoming deliber- 
ately aware of itself as the most effective means of its own 


the result. It is quite true, as Mr. Bradley says 
(p. 153), that if a man sits down to play the meta- 
physical game, he must abide by the rules of think- 
ing; but if thinking be already, with respect to 
reality, an idle and futile game, simply abiding 
by the rules does not give additional value to its 
stakes. Grant the premises as to the character 
of thought, and the assertion of the final character 
of the theoretical standard within metaphysics — 
since metaphysics is a form of theory — is a warn- 
ing against metaphysics. If the intellect involves 
self-contradiction, it is either impossible that it 
should be satisfied, or else self-contradiction is its 
satisfaction, j , / *J * ^~ 

Let us, however, turn from Mr. Bradley's formal 
proof that the criterion of philosophic truth must 
be exclusively a canon of formal thought. Let 

i us ignore the contradiction involved in first making 
the work of thought to be the producing of 
appearance and then making the law of this 
thought the law of an Absolute Reality. What 
about the intellectualist criterion ? The intellectu- 
alism of Mr. Bradley's philosophy is represented 
in the statement that it is " the theoretical stand- 

* ard which guarantees that reality is a self -consist- 
ent system " (p. 148). But how can the fact that 


the criterion of thinking is consistency be employed 
to determine the nature of the consistency of its 
object? Consistency in one sense, consistency of 
reasoning with itself, we know; but what is the 
nature of the consistency of reality which this con- 
sistency necessitates? Thinking without doubt 
must be logical ; but does it follow from this that 
the reality about which one thinks, and about which 
i one must think consistently if one is to think to any 
purpose, must itself be already logical? The pivot 
of the argument is, of course, the old ontological 
argument, stripped of all theological irrelevancies 
and reduced to its fighting weight as a metaphys- 
ical proposition. Those who question this basic 
principle of intellectualism will, of course, question 
it here. They will urge that, instead of the con- 
sistency of " reality " resting on the basis of 
consistency in the reasoning process the latter de- 
rives its meaning from the material consistency at 
which it aims. They will say that the definition 
of the nature of the consistency which is the end 
of thinking and which prescribes its technique is 
to be reached from inquiry into such questions as 
these : What sort of an activity in the concrete is 
thinking? what are the specific conditions which it 
has to fulfil? what is its use; its relevancy; its 
purport in present concrete experiences? The 
more it is insisted that the theoretical standard — 
consistency — is final within theory, the more ger- 


mane and the more urgent is the question: What 
then in the concrete is theory? and of what nature 
is. the material consistency which is the test of its 
formal consistency? l 

Take the instance of a man who wishes to deny 
the criterion of self-consistency in thinking. Is 
he refuted by pointing to the " fact " that eternal 
reality is eternally self-consistent? Would not his 
obvious answer to such a mode of refutation be: 
" What of it ? What is the relevancy of that 
proposition to my procedure in thinking here and 
now? Doubtless absolute reality may be a great 
number of things, possibly very sublime and pre- 
cious things ; but what I am concerned with is a 
particular job of thinking, and until you show me 
the intermediate terms which link that job to the 
asserted self-consistent character of absolute real- 
ity, I fail to see what difference this doubtless 

1 This suggests that many of the stock arguments against 
pragmatism fail to take its contention seriously enough. 
They proceed from the assumption that it is an account 
of truth which leaves untouched current notions of the 
nature of intelligence. But the essential point of prag- 
matism is that it bases its changed account of truth on a 
changed conception of the nature of intelligence, both as 
to its objective and its method. Now this different account 
of intelligence may be wrong, but controversy which leaves 
standing the conventionally current theories about thought 
and merely discusses "truth" will not go far. Since truth 
*• is the adequate fulfilment of the function of intelligence, the 
question turns on the nature of the latter. 


wholly amiable trait of reality has to make in what 
I am here and now concerned with. You might as 
well quote any other irrelevant fact, such as the 
height of the Empress of China." We take an- 
other tack in dealing with the man in question. 
We call his attention to his specific aim in the situ- 
ation with reference to which he is thinking, and 
point out the conditions that have to be observed 
if that aim is to fulfil itself. We show that if he 
does not observe the conditions imposed by his aim 
his thinking will go on so wildly as to defeat it- 
self. It is to consistency of means with the end 
of the concrete activity that we appeal. " Try 
thinking," we tell such a man, " experiment with 
it, taking pains sometimes to have your reasonings 
consistent with one another, and at other times 
deliberately introducing inconsistencies; then see 
what you get in the two cases and how the result 
reached is related to your purpose in thinking." 
We point out that since that purpose is to reach a 
settled conclusion, that purpose will be defeated un- 
less the steps of reasoning are kept consistent with 
one another. We do not appeal from the mere con- 
sistency of the reasoning process — the intellectual 
aspect of the matter — to an absolute self-con- 
sistent reality; but we appeal from the material 
character of the end to be reached to the type of 
the formal procedure necessary to accomplish it. 
With all our heart, then, the standard of think- 


ing is absolute (that is final) within thinking. 
But what is thinking? The standard of black- 
smithing must be absolute within blacksmithing, 
but what is blacksmithing? No prejudice pre- 
vents acknowledging that blacksmithing is one 
practical activity existing as a distinct and rele- 
vant member of a like system of activities : that it 
is because men use horses to transport persons and 
goods that horses need to be shod. The ultimate 
criterion of blacksmithing is producing a good 
shoe, but the nature of a good shoe is fixed, 
not by blacksmithing, but by the activities in 
which horses are used. The end is ultimate (abso- 
lute) for the operation, but this very finality is 
evidence that the operation is not absolute and 
self-inclosed, but is related and responsible. Why 
must the fact that the end of thinking is ultimate 
for thought stand on any different footing? 

Let us then, by way of experiment, follow this 
suggestion. Let us assume that among real objects 
in their values and significances, real oppositions 
and incompatibilities exist; that these conflicts are 
both troublesome in themselves, and the source of 
all manner of further difficulties — so much so that 
they may be suspected of being the source of all 
man's woe, of all encroachment upon and destruc- 
tion of value, of good. Suppose that thinking 
is, not accidentally but essentially, a way, and the 
only way that proves adequate, of dealing with 


these predicaments — that being " in a hole," in 
difficulty, is the fundamental " predicament " of in- 
telligence. Suppose when effort is made in a brute 
way to remove these oppositions and to secure an 
arrangement of things which means satisfaction, 
fulfilment, happiness, that the method of brute at- 
tack, of trying directly to force warrings into 
peace fails; suppose then an effort to effect the 
transformation by an indirect method — by inquiry 
into the disordered state of affairs and by framing 
views, conceptions, of what the situation would be 
like were it reduced to harmonious order. Finally, 
suppose that upon this basis a plan of action 
is worked out, and that this plan, when carried into 
overt effect, succeeds infinitely better than the 
brute method of attack in bringing about the de- 
sired consummation. Suppose again this indirec- 
i tion of activity is precisely what we mean by think- 
ing. Would it not hold that harmony is the end 
and the test of thinking? that observations are per- 
tinent and ideas correct just in so far as, overtly 
acted upon, they succeed in removing the unde- 
sirable, the inconsistent. 

But, it is said, the very process of thinking makes 
a certain assumption regarding the nature of real- 
ity, viz., that reality is self-consistent. This state- 
ment puts the end for the beginning. The assump- 
tion is not that " reality " is self-consistent, but 
that by thinking it may, for some special purpose, 


or as respects some concrete problem, attain 
greater consistency. Why should the assump- 
tion regarding " reality " be other than that 

* specific realities with which thought is concerned 
are capable of receiving harmonization? To say 
that thought must assume, in order to go on, that 
reality already possesses harmony is to say that 

v thought must begin by contradicting its own direct 
data, and by assuming that its concrete aim is vain 

v and illusory. Why put upon thought the onus of 
introducing discrepancies into reality in order just 
to give itself exercise in the gymnastic of removing 
them? The assumption that concrete thinking 
makes about " reality " is that things just as they 
exist may acquire through activity, guided by 
thinking, a certain character which it is excellent 
for them to possess ; and may acquire it more lib- 
erally and effectively than by other methods. 
One might as well say that the blacksmith could 
not think to any effect concerning iron, without a 
Platonic archetypal horseshoe, laid up in the 
heavens. His thinking also makes an assumption 
about present, given reality, viz., that this piece 
of iron, through the exercise of intelligently di- 
rected activity, may be shaped into a satisfactory 
horseshoe. The assumption is practical: the as- 
sumption that a specific thing may take on in a 
specific way a specific needed value. The test, 
moreover, of this assumption is practical; it con- 


sists in acting upon it to see if it will do what 
it pretends it can do, namely, guide activities to 
the required result. The assumption about reality 
is not something in addition to the idea, which an 
idea already in existence makes; some assumption 
about the possibility of a change in the state of 
things as experienced is the idea — and its test or 
criterion is whether this possible change can be 
effected when the idea is acted upon in good 

In any case, how much simpler the case becomes 
when we stick by the empirical facts. According 
to them there is no wholesale discrepancy of ex- 
istence and meaning ; there is simply a " loosen- 
ing " of the two when objects do not fulfil our 
plans and meet our desires ; or when we project 
inventions and cannot find immediately the means 
for their realization. The " collisions " are neither 
I physical, metaphysical, nor logical ; they are moral 
and practical. They exist between an aim and 
the means of its execution. Consequently the 
object of thinking is not to effect some wholesale 
and " Absolute " reconciliation of meaning and 
existence, but to make a specific adjustment of 
things to our purposes and of our purposes to 
things at just the crucial point of the crisis. Mak- 
ing the utmost concessions to Mr. Bradley's ac- 
count of the discrepancy of meaning and existence 
in our experience, to his statement of the relation 


of this to the function of judgment (as involving 
namely an explicit statement at once of the actual 
sundering and the ideal union) and to his account 
of consistency as the goal and standard, there is 
still not a detail of the account that is not met 
amply and with infinitely more empirical warrant 
by the conception that the " collision " in which 
thinking starts and the " consistency " in which it 
terminates are practical and human. ,y 

in fjrJ^i 

This brings us explicitly to the question of 
truth, " truth " being confessedly the end and 
standard of thinking. I confess to being much 
at a loss to realize just what the intellectualists 
conceive to be the relation of truth to ideas on one 
side and to " reality " on the other. My difficulty 
occurs, I think, because they describe so little in 
analytical detail; in writing of truth they seem 
rather to be under a strong emotional influence — 
as if they were victims of an uncritical pragma- 
tism — which leaves much of their thought to be 
guessed at. The implication of their discussions 
assigns three distinct values to the term " truth." 
On the one hand, truth is something which char- 
acterizes ideas, theories, hypotheses, beliefs, judg- 
ments, propositions, assertions, etc., — anything 
whatsoever involving intellectual statement. From 


this standpoint a criterion of truth means the test 
of the worth of the intellectual intent, import, or 
claim of any intellectual statement as intellectual. 
This is an intelligible sense of the term truth. In 
the second place, it seems to be assumed that a 
certain kind of reality is already, apart from ideas 
or meanings, Truth, and that this Truth is the 
criterion of that lower and more unworthy kind 
of truth that may be possessed or aimed at by 
ideas. But we do not stop here. The conception 
^that all truth must have a criterion haunts the 
intellectualist, so that the reality, which, as con- 
trasted with ideas, is taken to be The Truth (and 
the criterion of their truth) is treated as if it itself 
had to have support and warrant from some other 
Reality, lying back of it, which is its criterion. 
This, then, gives the third type of truth, The 
Absolute Truth. (Just why this process should 
not go on indefinitely is not clear, but the neces- 
sity of infinite regress may be emotionally pre- 
vented by always referring to this last type of 
truth as Absolute). Now this scheme may be 
" true," but it is not self-explanatory or even 
easily apprehensible. In just what sense, truth is 
(1) that to which ideas as ideas lay claim and yet 
is (2) Reality which as reality is the criterion of 
truth of ideas, and yet again is (3) a Reality 
which completely annuls and transcends all refer- 
ence to ideas, is not in the least clear to me : nor, 


till better informed, shall I believe it to be clear 
to any one. 

In his more strictly logical discussions, Mr. 
Bradley sets out from the notion that truth refers 
to intellectual statements and positions as such. 
But the Truth soon becomes a sort of transcen- 
dent essence on its own account. The identifica- 
tion of reality and truth on page 146 may be a 
mere casual phrase, but the distinction drawn be- 
tween validity and absolute truth (p. 362), and the 
discussion of Degrees of Truth and Reality, in- 
volve assumptions of an identity of truth and 
reality. Truth in this sense turns out to be the 
criterion for the truth, the truth, that is, of ideas. 
But, again (p. 545), a distinction is made between 
"Finite Truth," that is, a view of reality which 
would completely satisfy intelligence as such, and 
"Absolute Truth," which is obtained only by 
passing beyond intelligence — only when intelligence 
as such is absorbed in some Absolute in which it 
loses its distinctive character. 

It would advance the state of discussion, I am 
sure, if there were more explicit statements regard- 
ing the relations of " true idea," " truth," " the 
criterion of truth " and " reality," to one an- 
other. A more explicit exposition also of the view 
that is held concerning the relation of verification 
and truth could hardly fail to be of value. ,Npt 
infrequently the intellectualist admits that the 


process of verification is experimental, consisting 
in setting on foot various activities that express 
the intent of the idea and confirm or refute it ac- 
cording to the changes effected. This seems to 
mean that truth is simply the tested or verified 
belief as such. But then a curious reservation is 
introduced; the experimental process finds, it is 
said, that an idea is true, while the error of the 
pragmatist is to take the process by which truth 
is found as one by which it is made. The claim 
of " making truth " is treated as blasphemy ; 
* against the very notion of truth : such are the con- 
sequences of venturing to translate the Latin i 
" verification " into the English " making true." 
If we face the bogie thus called up, it will be 
found that the horror is largely sentimental. Sup- 
pose we stick to the notion that truth is a char-\ 
acter which belongs to a meaning so far as tested 
through action that carries it to successful comple- 
tion. In this case, to make an idea true is to 
modify and transform it until it reaches this suc- 
cessful outcome : until it initiates a mode of response 
which in its issue realizes its claim to be the method 
of harmonizing the discrepancies of a given situa- 
tion. The meaning is remade by constantly acting 
upon it, and by introducing into its content such 
'characters as are indicated by any resulting fail- 
ures to secure harmony. From this point of view, 
verification and truth are two names for the same 


thing. We call it " verification " when we regard 

ft a^jjrocess ; when the development of the idea is 

.strung out and exposed to view in all that makes 

it true. We call it " truth " when we take it as 

product, as process telescoped and condensed. 

Suppose the idea to be an invention, say of the 

telephone. In this case, is not the verification of 

the idea and the construction of the device which 

carries out its intent one and the same? In this 

case, does the truth of the idea mean anything 

else than that the issue proves the idea can be 

carried into effect? There are certain intellectu- 

alists who are not of the absolutist type; who do 

not believe that all of men's aims, designs, projects, 

that have to do with action, whether industrial, 

social, or moral in scope, have been from all 

eternity registered as already accomplished in real- 
ity. How do such persons dispose of this prob- 
lem of the truth of practical ideas? 

Is not the truth of such ideas an affair of mak- 
ing them true by constructing, through appropri- 
ate behavior, a condition that satisfies the re- 
quirements of the case? If, in this case, truth 
means the effective capacity of the idea " to make 
good," what is there in the logic of the case to 
forbid the application of analogous considerations 
to any idea? 

I hear a noise in the street. It suggests as its 
meaning a street-car. To test this idea I go to 


the window and through listening and looking in- 
tently — the listening and the looking being modes 
of behavior — organize into a single situation ele- 
ments of existence and meaning which were previ- 
ously disconnected. In this way an idea is made 
true; that which was a proposal or hypothesis is 
no longer merely a propounding or a guess. If I 
had not reacted in a way appropriate to the idea 
it would have remained a mere idea; at most a 
candidate for truth that, unless acted upon upon 
the spot, would always have remained a theory. 
Now in such a case — where the end to be accom- 
plished is the discovery of a certain order of facts 
— would the intellectualist claim that apart from 
the forming and entertaining of some interpreta- 
tion, the category of truth has either existence or 
meaning? Will he claim that without an original 
practical uneasiness introducing a practical aim of 
inquiry there must have been, whether or no, an 
idea? Must the world for some purely intellectual 
reason be intellectually reduplicated? Could not 
that occurrence which I now identify as a noisy 
street-car have retained, so far as pure intelligence 
is concerned, its unidentified status of being mere 
physical alteration in a vast unidentified complex 
of matter-in-mption ? Was there any intellectual 
necessity.. that compelled the event to arouse just 
this judgment, that it meant a street-car? Was 
there any physical or metaphysical necessity? 


Was there any necessity save a need of characteriz- 
ing it for some purpose of our own? And why 
should we be mealy-mouthed about calling this 
need practical? If the necessity which led to the 
formation and development of an intellectual judg- 
ment was purely objective (whether physical or 
metaphysical) why should not the thing have also to 
be characterized in countless millions of other ways ; 
for example, as to its distance from some crater in 
the moon, or its effect upon the circulation of my 
blood, or upon my irascible neighbor's temper, or 
bearing upon the Monroe Doctrine? In short, do 
not intellectual positions and statements mean new 
and significant events in the treatment of things? 
It is perhaps dangerous to attempt to follow 
the inner workings of the processes by which truth 
is first identified with some superior type of Real- 
ity, and then this Truth is taken as the criterion 
J 2 of the truth of ideas ; while all the time it is held 
fc that truth is something already possessed by ideas 
as purely intellectual. But there seems to be some 
ground for believing that this identification is due 
to a twofold confusion, one having to do with ideas, 
and the other with things. As to the first point : 
After an idea is made true, we naturally say, in 
retrospect, " it was true all the time." Now this 
truism is quite innocuous as a truism, being just a 
restatement of the fact that the idea has, as matter 
of fact, worked successfully. But it may be re- 


garded not as a truism but as furnishing some ad- 
ditional knowledge ; as if it were, indeed, the dawn- 
ing of a revelation regarding truth. Then it is 
said that the idea worked or was verified because 
it was already inherently, just as idea, the truth; 
the pragmatist, so it is said, making the error 
of supposing that it is true because it works. If 
one remembers that what the experimentalist means 
is that the effective working of an idea and its 
truth are one and the same thing — this working 
being neither the cause nor the evidence of truth 
but its nature — it is hard to see the point of this 
statement. A man under peculiarly precarious 
circumstances has been rescued from drowning. A 
by-stander remarks that now he is a saved man. 
" Yes," replies some one, " but he was a saved man 
all the time, and the process of rescuing, while it 
gives evidence of that fact, does not constitute it." 
Now even such a statement as pure tautology, 
as characterizing the entire process in terms of its 
issue, is objectionable only in the fact that, like 
all tautology, it seems to say something but does 
not. But if it be regarded as revealing the earlier 
condition of affairs, apart from the active process 
by which it was carried to a happy conclusion, such 
a statement would be monstrously false ; and would 
declare its falsity in the fact that, if acted upon, 
the man would have been left to drown. In like 
fashion, to say, after the event, that a given idea 


was true all the time, is to lose sight of what makes 
an idea an idea, its hypothetical character; and 
thereby deliberately to transform it into brute 
dogma — something to which no canon of verifica- 
tion can ever be applied. The intellectualist al- 
most always treats the pragmatic account as if it 
were, from the standpoint of the pragmatist as well 
as from his own, a denial of the existence of truth, 
while it is nothing but a statement of its nature. 
When the intellectualist realizes this, he will, I hope, 
ask himself : What, then, on the pragmatic basis is 
meant by the proposition that an idea is true all 
the time? If the statement that an idea was true 
all the time has no meaning except that the idea 
was one which as matter of fact succeeded through 
action in achieving its intent, mere reiteration that 
the idea was true all the time or it could not have 
succeeded, does not take us far. 1 

1 Such a statement as, for example, Mr. Bradley's (Mind, 
Vol. XIII., No. 51, N.S., p. 3, article on "Truth and 
Practice ") " The idea works . . . but is able to work 
because I have chosen the right idea" surely loses any 
argumentative force it may seem to have, when it is recalled 
that, upon the theory argued against, ability to work and 
Tightness are one and the same thing. "If the wording is 
changed to read "The idea is able to work because I have 
chosen an idea which is able to work" the question- 
begging character of the implied criticism is evident. The 
change of phraseology also may suggest the crucial and 
pregnant question: How does any one know that an idea 
i§ able to work excepting by setting it at work? 


Qn^ih^ side of things, reality is identified with 
truth; then on the principle that two things 
that are equal to the same thing are equal to 
each other, truth as idea and truth as reality are 
taken to be one and the same thing. Wherever 
there is an improved or tested idea, an idea which 
has made good, there is a concrete existence in the 
way of a completed or harmonized situation. The 
same activity which proves the idea constructs an 
inherently satisfied situation out of an inherently 
dissentient one, — for it is precisely the capacity 
of the idea as an aim and method of action to 
determine such transformation that is the cri- 
terion of its truth. Now unless all the elements 
in the situation are held steadily in view, the specific 
way in which the harmonized reality affords the 
criterion of truth (namely, through its function 

* of being the last term of a process of active de- 
termination) is lost from sight; and the achieved 
existence in its merely existent character, apart 
from its practical or fulfilment character, is treated 
as The Truth. But when the reality is thus sepa- 
ygf jj f™iTO t.hf p™^gg by which it is achieved," 

^ when it is taken just as given, it is neither truth 
nor a criterion of truth. It is a state of facts like 
any other. The achieved telephone is a criterion 
of the validity of a certain prior idea in so far 
as it is the fulfilment of activities that embody 
the nature of that idea, but just as telephone, as 



a machine actually in existence, it is no more truth 
nor criterion of truth than is a crack in the wall 
or a cobble-stone on the street. 

The intervening term that mediates and com- 
pletes the confusion of truth with ideas on one 
hand and " reality " on the other, is, I think, the 
fact that ideas after they have been tested in action 
are employed in the development and grounding of 
further beliefs. There are cases in which an idea 
ceases to exist as idea as soon as it is made true; 
this is so as matter of fact and it is impossible to 
conceive any reason why it should not be so in point 
of theory. Such is the case, I take it, with a large 
part — possibly the major portion — of the ideas 
that mediate the smaller and transient crises of 
daily practice. I cannot imagine the situation in 
which the truth to which I have referred above — 
the verification of a certain idea about a certain 
noise — would ever function again as truth — save 
as I have given it a function in this paper by using 
it as a corroboration of a certain theory. Such 
ideas mostly cease, giving way to a matter-of- 
fact status : say, the perception of the noisy street- 
car. One at the time may say " My idea re- 
garding that noise was a true idea " ; or one may 
not even go so far as that, he may just stop with 
the eventual perception. But the tested idea need 
not ever recur as a factor of proof in any other 
problem, S^ch> however, is conspicuously not 


the case with our scientific ideas. In its first 
value, the idea or hypothesis of gravitation en- 
tertained by Newton, stood, when verified, on 
exactly the same level as the hypothesis regard- 
ing the noise in the street. Theoretically, that 
truth might have been so isolated that its truth 
character would disappear from thought as 
soon as a certain factual condition was ascer- 
tained. But practically quite the opposite has 
happened. The idea operates in many other in- 
quiries, and operates no longer as mere idea, but 
as provedjdea,. Such truths get an " eternal " 
status — one irrespective of application just riSW* 
^anofhere, because there are so many nows and heres 
in which they are useful. Just as to say an idea 
was true all the time is a way of saying in retro- 
spect that it has come out in a certain fashion, 
so to say that an idea is " eternally true " is to 
indicate prospective modes of application which 
are indefinitely anticipated. Its meaning, there- 
fore, is strictly pragmatic. It does not indicate 
a property inherent in the idea as intellectualized 
existence, but denotes a property of use and 
employment. Always at hand when needed is 
a good enough eternal for reasonably minded 



I have gone from the very general considerations 
which occupied us in the earlier portions of this 
article to matters which relatively at least are 
specific. I conclude with a summary in the hope 
that it may bind together the earlier and the later 
parts of this paper. 

1. The condition which antecedes and provokes 
any particular exercise of reflective knowing is al- 
ways one of discrepancy, struggle, " collision." 
This condition is practical, for it involves the habits 
and interests of the organism, an agent. This 
does not mean that the struggle is merely personal, 
or subjective, or psychological. The agent or 
individual is one factor in the situation — not the 
situation something subsisting in the individual. 
The individual has to be identified in the situation, 
before any situation can be referred — as in psy- 
chology — to the individual. But the discrepancy 
calls out and controls reflective knowing only as 
the fortunes of an agent are implicated in the 
crisis. Certain elements stand out as obstacles, as 
interferences, as deficiencies — in short as unsatis- 
factory and as requiring something for their com- 
pletion. Other elements stand out as wanted — as 
required, as a satisfaction which does not exist. 
This clash (an accompaniment of all desire) be- 
tween the given and the wanted, between the pres- 


ent and the absent, is at once the root and the 
type of that peculiar paradoxical relation between 
existence and meaning which Bradley insists upon 
as the essence of judgment. It is not irrational 
in the sense that we are dealing with appearance 
wholesale, but it is non-rational — an evidence that 
we are dealing with a practical affair. 

£. The intellectual or reflective and logical is a 
statement of this conflict: an attempt to describe 
and define it. It is, as it were, the practical clash 
held off at arm's length for inspection and in- 
vestigation. In this way brute blind reaction 
against^ the unsatisfactoriness of the situation is 
suspended. Action is turned into the channel of 
observing, of inferring, of reasoning, or defining 
means and end. It is this change in the quality 
of activity, from directly overt, to indirect, or in- 
quiring with view to stating, that constitutes the 
specific nature of reflective practice to which Mr. 
Bradley calls attention. The discovery of the na- 
ture of the conflict supplies materials for the fact 
or ex istence side of the judgmen t. The concep- 
tion or projection of the object in which the con- 
flict would be terminated furnishes material for 
the meaning side of the judgment. It is ideal 
because anticipatory, just as the fact side is 
existential, because reminiscent or recording. 
Hence the two are necessarily both distin- 
guished from and yet referred to each other: only 



through location of a problem can a solution be 
conceived ; only in reference to the intent of finding 
a, solution can the elements of a problem be 
selected and interpreted. Jn origin and in destiny, 
this correlative determination of existence and 
meaning is tentative and experimental. The aim 
of the subject of the judgment is not to include all 
possible reality, but to select those elements of a 
reality that are useful in locating the source and 
nature of the difficulty in hand. The aim of the 
predicate is not to bunch all possible meaning and 
refer it in one final act indiscriminately to all ex- 
istence, but to state the standpoint and method 
through which the difficulty of the particuJax-siUia- 
tion may most effectively be dealt with. The selec- 
tion of what is relevant to the characterization of 
the problem and the projection of the method of 
dealing with it are theoretic, hypothetic, intel- 
lectual: — that is, they are tentative ways of view- 
ing the matter for the sake of guiding, economiz- 
ing, and freeing the activities through which it may 
really be dealt with. 

3. The criterion of the worth of the idea is thus 
the capacity of the idea (as a definition of the end 
or outcome in terms of what is likely to be service- 
able as a method) to operate in fulfilling the object 
for the sake of which it was projected. Capacity 
of operation in this fashion is the test, measure, or 
criterion of truth. Hence the criterion is practi- 


cal in the most overt sense of that term. We 
may, if we choose, regard the object in which the 
idea terminates through its use in guiding action, 
as the criterion; but if we so choose, it is at our 

I peril that we forget that this object serves as 
criterion in its capacity of fulfilment and not as 
sheer objec tive existence. 

4. Difficulties overlap ; problems recur which re- 
semble each other in the kind of treatment they 
demand for solution. Various modes of activity 
with their respective ends, going on at some time 
more or less independently, get organized into 
single comprehensive systems of behavior. The so- 

j lution of one problem is found to create difficulties 
elsewhere ; or the truth that is made in the solu- 
tion of one problem is found to afford an effective 
method of dealing with questions arising appar- 
ently from unallied sources. Thus certain tested 
ideas in performing a constant or recurrent func- 
tion secure a certain permanent status. The pro- 
spective use of such truths, the satisfaction that 
we anticipate in their employ, the assurance of 
control that we feel in their possession, becomes 
relatively much more important than the circum- 
stances under which they were first made true. In 
becoming permanent resources, such tested ideas 
get a generalized energy of position. They are 
truths in general, truths " in themselves " or in the 
abstract, truths to which positive value is assigned 


on their own account. Such truths are the " eter- 
nal truths " of current discussion. They naturally 
and properly add to their intellectual and to their 
practical worth a certain esthetic quality. They 
are interesting to contemplate, and their con- 
templation arouses emotions of admiration and 
reverence. To make these emotions the basis of 
assigning peculiar inherent sanctity to them apart 
from their warrant in use, is simply to give way 
to that mood which in primitive man is the cause 
of attributing magical efficacy to physical things. 
Esthetically such truths are more than instrumen- 
talities. But to ignore both the instrumental and 
the esthetic aspect, and to ascribe values due to an 
instrumental and esthetic character to some in- 
terior and a priori constitution of truth is to make 
fetishes of them. 

We may not exaggerate the permanence and 
stability of such truths with respect to their re- 
curring and prospective use. It is only relatively 
that they are unchanging. When applied to new 
cases, used as resources for coping with new diffi- 
culties, the oldest of truths are to some extent 
remade. Indeed it is only through such applica- 
tion and such remaking that truths retain their 
freshness and vitality. Otherwise they are rele- 
gated to faint reminiscences of an antique tradi- 
tion. Even the truth that two and two make four 
has gained a new meaning, has had its truth in 


some degree remade, in the development of the 
modern theory of number. If we put ourselves in 
the attitude of a scientific inquirer in asking what 
is the meaning of truth per se, there spring up 
before us those ideas which are actively employed 
in the mastery of new fields, in the organization 
of new materials. This is the essential difference 
between truth and dogma ; between the living and 
the dead and decaying. Above all, it is in the 
region of moral truth that this perception stands 
out. Moral truths that are not recreated in appli- 
cation to the urgencies of the passing hour, no mat- 
ter how true in the place and time of their origin, 
are pernicious and misleading, i.e., false. And it 
is perhaps through emphasizing this fact, embodied 
in one form or another in every system of morals 
and in every religion of moral import, that one 
most readily realizes the character of truth. 


T)UPIL. I am desirous, respected teacher, of 
■■• forming an independent judgment concern- 
ing the novel theory of truth that you are said 
to profess. My eagerness is whetted because the 
theory as expounded to me by my old teacher, 
Professor Purus Intellectus, so obviously contra- 
venes common sense, science, and philosophy that I 
do not understand how it can be advanced in good 
faith by any reasonable man. 

Teacher. As you are already somewhat ac- 
quainted with the theory (or at least with what 
it purports. to be), perhaps if you will set forth in 
order your objections, it will appear that the 
theory that you are acquainted with is not ad- 
vanced by any reasonable persons, and that by 
understanding the theory as it is you will also be 
led to embrace it. 

Pupil: Objection One. Pragmatism makes 
truth a subjective affair, namely the satisfaction 
afforded individuals by ideas, while everybody 

*A paper read in the spring of 1909 before the Philo- 
sophical Club of Smith College and not previously published. 



knows that the truth of ideas depends upon their 
relation to things. 

Teacher: Reply. If I were to reply that I 
hold to existences independent of ideas, existences 
prior to, synchronous with, and subsequent to ideas, 
that might seem to you to express only my personal 
opinion and to have no logical connection with 
pragmatism. So I beg to remind you that, ac-^ 
cording to pragmatism, ideas (judgments and 
reasonings being included for convenience in this 
term) are attitudes of response taken toward ex- 
tra-ideal, extra-mental things. Instinct and habit * 
express, for instance, modes of response, but modes 
inadequate for a progressive being, or for adapta- 
tion to an environment presenting novel and un- 
mastered features. Under such conditions, ideas 
are their surrogates. The origin of an idea is thus 
in some empirical, extra-mental situation which 
provokes ideas as modes of response, while their 
meaning is found in the modifications — the " differ- 
ences " — they make in this extra-mental situation. 
Their validity is in turn measured by their capac- 
ity to effect the transformation they intend. 
Origin, content, and value — all alike are extra- 
ideational. The satisfaction upon which the 
pragmatist dwells is just the better adjustment of 
living beings to their environment effected by 
transformations of the environment through form- 
ing and applying ideas. 


Pupil: Objection Two. But, as I understand 
it and as you have yourself confessed in your lan- 
guage, these external things, while they may be 
external to the particular idea in question, are em- 
pirical; they are just other experiences and so 
mental after all. You hold, I have been informed, 
that truth is an experienced relation, instead of 
a relation between experience and what transcends 
it ; why then be mealy-mouthed (pardon my eager- 
ness if it leads me astray) in admitting that the 
whole business is intra-mental? 

Teacher: Reply. Your objection combines and 
confuses two things. To disentangle them is to 
answer the objection. (1) The notion of trans- 
cendence has a double meaning; first, it denotes 
that which lies inherently and essentially beyond 
experience. It is interesting to note that the op- 
ponents of pragmatism have been forced by the 
exigencies of their hostility to resuscitate a doc- 
trine supposedly dead: the doctrine of unexperi- 
enceable, unknowable " Things in Themselves." 
And as if this were not enough, they identify Truth 
with relationship to this unknowable. Thereby 
in behalf of the notion of Truth in general, they 
land in scepticism with reference to the possibility 
of any truth in particular. The pragmatist is 
bound to deny such transcendence. (2) That he is 
thereby landed in pure subjectivism or the reduc- 
tion of every existence to the purely mental, follows 


only if experience means only mental states. The 
critic appears to hold the Humian doctrine that 
experience is made up of states of mind, of sensa- 
tions and ideas. It is then for him to decide how, 
on his basis, he escapes subjective idealism, or 
" mentalism." The pragmatist starts from a much 
more commonplace notion of experience, that of 
the plain man who never dreams that to experience 
a thing is first to destroy the thing and then to 
substitute a mental state for it. More particu- 
larly, the pragmatist has insisted that experience 
is a matter of functions and habits, of active ad- 
justments and re-adjustments, of co-ordinations 
and activities, rather than of states of conscious- 
ness. To criticise the pragmatist by reading into 
him exactly the notion of experience that he denies 
and replaces, may be psychological and unregener- 
ately " pragmatic," but it is hardly " intellectual." 
Pupil: Objection Three. You remind me, curi- 
ously enough, of a contention of my old instructor 
to the effect that the pragmatist, when criticised, 
always shifts his ground. To avoid solipsism and 
subjectivism, he falls back on things independent 
of ideas, adducing them in order to pass upon the 
truth or falsity of the latter. But thereby he only 
covertly recognizes the intellectualistic standard. 
Thus he swings unevenly between a denial of sci- 
ence and a clamorous reiteration, in new phrase- 
ology, of what all philosophers hold. 



Teacher: Reply. Your words have indeed a 
familiar sound. Apparently, the average intel- 
lectualist has got so accustomed to taking truth 
as a Relation at Large, without specification or 
analysis, that any attempt at a concrete statement 
of just what the relationship is appears to be a 
denial of the relation itself; in which case, he in- 
terprets an occasional reminder from the prag- 
matist that the latter is, after all, attempting to 
specify the nature of the relation, to be a sur- 
render of the pragmatist's own case, since it ad- 
mits after all that there is some relation! 

However that may be, the pragmatist holds that 
the relation in question is one of correspondence 
between existence and thought ; but he holds that 
correspondence instead of being an ultimate and 
unanalyzable mystery, to be defined by iteration, 
is precisely a matter of cor-respondence in its 
plain, familiar sense. A condition of dubious and 
conflicting tendencies calls out thinking as a method 
of handling it. This condition produces its own 
appropriate consequences, bearing its own fruits 
of weal and woe. The thoughts, the estimates, 
intents, and projects it calls out, just because 
they are attitudes of response) and of attempted 
adjustment (not mere " states of consciousness "), 
produce their effects also. The kind of interlock- 
ing, of inter adjustment that then occurs between 
these two sorts of consequences constitutes the 


correspondence that makes truth, just as failure to 
respond to each other, to work together, consti- 
tutes mistake and error — mishandling and wan- 
dering. This account may, of course, be wrong — 
may involve a maladjustment of consequences — 
but the error in the account, if it exists, must be 
specific and empirical, and cannot be located by 
general epistemological accusations. 

Pupil: Objection Four. Well, even admitting 
this version of pragmatism, you cannot deny it 
still contravenes common sense; for, according to //* 
you, the correspondence that constitutes truth does 
not exist till after ideas have worked, while common 
sense perceives and knows that it is the antecedent 
agreement of the ideas with reality that enables 
them to work. If you make the truth of the ex- 
istence of a Carboniferous age, or the landing of 
Columbus in 149$, depend upon a future working 
of an idea about them, you commit yourself to the 
most fantastic of philosophies. 

Teacher: Reply. May I recall to your atten- 
tion the accusation of " shifting ground " when 
hard pressed? The intellectualist began, if I re- 
member correctly, with conceiving truth as a re- 
lation of thought and existence ; has he not, in your 
last objection, substituted for this conception an 
identification of the bare existence or event with 
truth? Which does he mean? How will he have 
it? The existence of the Carboniferous age, the 


discovery of America by Columbus are not truths ; 
they are events. Some conviction, some belief, 
some judgment with reference to them is necessary 
to introduce the category of truth and falsity. 
And since the conviction, the judgment, is as mat- 
ter of fact subsequent to the event, how can its 
truth consist in the kind of blank, wholesale rela- 
tionship the intellectualist contends for? How 
can the present belief jump out of its present 
skin, dive into the past, and land upon just the 
one event (that as past is gone forever) which, by 
definition, constitutes its truth? I do not wonder 
the intellectualist has much to say about " trans- 
cendence " when he comes to dealing with the truth 
of judgments about the past; but why does he 
not tell us how we manage to know when one 
thought lands straight on the devoted head of 
something past and gone, while another thought 
comes down on the wrong thing in the past? 

Pupil. Well, of course, knowledge of the past 
is very mysterious, but how is the pragmatist 
any better off? 

Teacher. The reply to that may be inferred 
from what has already been said. The past event 
has left effects, consequences, that are present 
and that will continue in the future. Our belief 
about it, if genuine, must also modify action in 
some way and so have objective effects. If these 
two sets of effects interlock harmoniously, then the 


judgment is true. If perchance the past event 
had no discoverable consequences or our thought of 
it can work out to no assignable difference any- 
where, then there is no possibility of genuine judg- 

Pupil. You have, perhaps, anticipated my next 
objection, which was that upon the pragmatic 
theory (by which truth is constituted by future 
consequences) there are no truths about what is 
past and gone, since in respect to that ideas can 
make no difference. For, I suppose, you would 
say that the difference made is in the effects that 
continue, since ideas may work out to facilitate or 
to confuse our relations to these effects. Never- 
theless, I am not quite satisfied. For when I say 
it is true that it rained yesterday, surely the 
object of my judgment is something past, not 
future, while pragmatism makes all objects of 
judgment future. 

Teacher: Reply. You confuse the content of 
a judgment with the reference of that content. 
The content of any idea about yesterday's rain 
certainly involves past time, but the distinctive 
or characteristic aim of judgment is none the 
less to give this content a future reference and 

Pupil: Objection Five. But your argument re- 
quires an absurd identification of truth and veri- 
fication. To verify ideas is to find out that they 


were already true ; or possessed of the truth rela- 
tion prior to its discovery in verification. But the 
pragmatist holds that the act of finding out that 
ideas are true creates the thing that is found. 
In short, you confuse the psychology of finding 
out with the reality found out. 

Teacher: Reply. Many intellectuals ts have 
now gone so far as to admit that verification is 
the testing of a judgment by the consequence it 
imports, the difference it makes — its working. But 
they still deny any organic connection between the 
" antecedent " truth property of ideas and the 
verification (or " making true ") process. Surely 
they admit either too much or too little, (i) If 
an idea about a past event is already true because 
of some mysterious static correspondence that 
it possesses to that past event, how in the world 
can its truth be proved by the future consequences 
of that idea? Why is it that the intellectualist 
has not produced any positive theory about the 
relation of verification to his notion of truth? 
(ii) Moreover, if verification consists in the ex- 
perimental working out of a belief, the intellectu- 
alist thereby admits that his own theory of truth 
can be known to be true only as it is verified by its 
workings. But if the theory that truth is a ready- 
made static property of judgments is true, how 
in the world can it be verified by making any spe- 
cific differences in the course of events? Every- 


where we have to proceed as if the pragmatic 
theory were the right one. (iii) If he admits 
that the pragmatic theory of verification is true, 
what meaning remains to the statement that the 
idea had the truth property in advance? Why, 
simply that it had the property of ability to work 
— an ability revealed by its actual working. How 
can a given fact be an objection to the pragmatic 
theory when that fact has a definitely assignable 
meaning on the pragmatic theory, while upon the 
anti-pragmatic theory it just has to be accepted 
as an ultimate, unanalyzable fact? 

As to your remark about verification being 
merely psychological, I have something to say. 
Colleagues of mine are steadily at work in various 
laboratories on various researches, forming 
hypotheses, experimenting, testing, corroborating, 
refuting, modifying ideas. One of them, for ex- 
ample, recently put an immense pendulum in place 
in order to repeat and test Foucault's experiment 
with reference to the earth's rotation. Do you re- 
gard such verification processes as merely psycho- 
logical ? 

Pupil. I don't know. Why do you ask? 

Teacher. Because if the objector means that 
such experimental provings are merely psycholog- 
ical, he has of course relegated to the merely psy- 
chological (wherever that may be) all the tech- 
nique of all the physical sciences — a rather high 


price to pay for the confutation of the pragma- 
tist. The intellectualist is thus in the dilemma 
either of conceding to the pragmatist the whole 
sphere of concrete scientific logic or else of himself 
regarding all science as merely subjective? Which 
horn does he choose? 

Pupil: Objection Six. I noticed a moment 
ago that you spoke of the pragmatic theory of 
truth being true. Surely the pragmatist does not 
live up to his reputation of having a sense of 
humor when he claims assent to his theory on the 
ground that it is true. What is this but to admit 
intellectualism ? 

Teacher: Reply. My son, we are evidently 
nearing the end. Naturally, the pragmatist claims 
his theory to be true in the pragmatic sense of 
truth: it works, it clears up difficulties, removes 
obscurities, puts individuals into more experi- 
mental, less dogmatic, and less arbitrarily sceptical 
relations to life; aligns philosophic with scientific 
method; does away with self-made problems of 
epistemology ; clarifies and reorganizes logical the- 
ory, etc. He is quite content to have the truth 
of his theory consist in its working in these various 
ways, and to leave to the intellectualist the proud 
possession of a static, unanalyzable, unverifiable, 
unworking property. 

Pupil: Objection Seven. Nevertheless, the prag- 
matist is always appealing to the judgments of 


others to corroborate his own judgment. Surely 
this admits the principle of a judgment that is 
correct, true, in se. 

Teacher: Reply. The pragmatist says that 
judgment is pragmatic, i.e., originated under con- 
ditions of need for a survey and statement, and 
tested by efficiency in meeting this need. And 
then you think you have refuted him by saying 
that any appeal to judgment is intellectualistic ! 
Such begging of the question convinces me that 
the radical difficulty of the intellectualist is that 
he conceives of the pragmatist as beginning with 
a theory of truth, when in reality the latter begins 
with a theory about judgments and meanings of 
which the theory of truth is a corollary. 

Pupil: Objection Eight. Nevertheless, you are 
endeavoring to convert your opponent to a certain 
theory. Surely that is an intellectual undertak- 
ing, and in theory (at least) the theoretical cri- 
terion, as Mr. Bradley has well said, must be 

Teacher: Reply. A little reflection will convince 
you that you are going around in the same old 
circle. Since men have to act together, since the 
individual subsists in social bonds and activities, 
to convert another to a certain way of looking 
at things is to make social ties and functions better 
adapted, more prosperous in their workings. Only 
if the pragmatist held the mtellectualisfs position, 


would he appeal to other than what is ultimately 
a practical need and a practical criterion in en- 
deavoring to convert others. 

Pupil: Objection Nine. Still the pragmatic 
criterion, being satisfactory working, is purely 
personal and subjective. Whatever works so as 
to please me is true. Either this is your result (in 
which case your reference to social relations only 
denotes at bottom a number of purely subjectivistic 
satisfactions) or else you unconsciously assume an 
intellectual department of our nature that has 
to be satisfied; and whose satisfaction is truth. 
Thereby you admit the intellectualistic criterion. 

Teacher: Reply. We seem to have got back 
to our starting-point, the nature of satisfaction. 
The intellectualist seems to think that because the 
pragmatist insists upon the factor of human want, 
purpose, and realization in the making and testing 
of judgments, the impersonal factor is therefore 
denied. But what the pragmatist does is to insist 
that the human factor must work itself out in 
co-operation with the environmental factor, and 
that their co-adaptation is both " correspondence " 
and " satisfaction." As long as the human factor 
is ignored and denied, or is regarded as merely 
psychological (whatever, once more, that means), 
this human factor will assert itself in irresponsible 
ways. So long as, particularly in philosophy, a 
flagrantly unchastened pragmatism reigns, we 


shall find, as at present, the most ambitious intel- 
lectualistic systems accepted simply because of the 
personal comfort they yield those who contrive 
and accept them. Once recognize the human fac- 
tor, and pragmatism is at hand to insist that the 
believer must accept the full consequences of his 
beliefs, and that his beliefs must be tried out, 
through acting upon them, to discover what is 
their meaning or consequence. Till so tested, he 
insists that beliefs, no matter how noble and seem- 
ingly edifying, are dogmas, not truths. Till the 
testing has been worked out very completely and 
patiently, he holds his beliefs as but provisional, 
as working hypotheses, as methods : — and he recog- 
nizes the probability that, as additional modes of 
testing develop, more and more so-called truths 
will be relegated to the category of working hypo- 
theses — till the dogmatic mind is crowded out and 
starved out. At present, the ignoring by philos- 
ophers of the part played by personal education, 
temperament, and preference in their philosophies 
is the chief source of pretentiousness and insin- 
cerity in their systems, and is the ground of the 
popular disregard for them. 

Pupil. What you say calls to mind something 
of Chesterton's that I read recently : " I agree with 
the pragmatists that apparent objective truth is 
not the whole matter ; that there is an authoritative 
need to believe the things that are necessary to 


the human mind. But I say that one of those 
necessities precisely is a belief in objective truth. 
Pragmatism is a matter of human needs and one 
of the first of human needs is to be something more 
than a pragmatist." You would say, if I under- 
stand you aright, that to fall back upon a sup- 
posed necessity of the " human mind " to believe 
in certain absolute truths, is to evade a proper 
demand for testing the human mind and all its 

Teacher. My son, I am glad to leave the last 
word with you. This enfant terrible of intellectu- 
alism has revealed that the chief objection of abso- 
lutists to the pragmatic doctrine of the personal 
(or "subjective") factor in belief is that the 
pragmatist has spilled the personal milk in the 
absolutist's cocoanut. 


BELIEFS look both ways, towards persons and 
toward things. They are the original Mr. 
Facing-both-ways. They form or judge — justify 
or condemn — the agents who entertain them and 
who insist upon them. They are of things whose 
immediate meanings form their content. To be- 
lieve is to ascribe value, impute meaning, assign 
import. The collection and interaction of these 
appraisals and assessments is the world of the 
common man, — that is, of man as an individual 
and not as a professional being or class specimen. 
Thus things are characters, not mere entities ; they 

1 Read as the Presidential Address at the fifth annual 
meeting of the American Philosophical Association, at Cam- 
bridge, December 28, 1905, and reprinted with verbal re- 
visions from the Philosophical Review, Vol. XV., March, 
1906. The substitution of the word "Existences" for the 
word " Realities ■ (in the original title) is due to a sub- 
sequent recognition on my part that the eulogistic historic 
associations with the word " Reality " (against which the 
paper was a protest) infected the interpretation of the 
paper itself, so that the use of some more colorless word 
was desirable. 



behave and respond and provoke. In the behavior 
that exemplifies and tests their character, they 
help and hinder; disturb and pacify; resist and 
comply; are dismal and mirthful, orderly and 
deformed, queer and commonplace ; they agree and 
disagree; are better and worse. 

Thus the human world, whether or no it have 
core and axis, has presence and transfiguration. 
It means here and now, not in some transcendent 
sphere. It moves, of itself, to varied incremental 
meaning, not to some far off event, whether divine 
or diabolic. Such movement constitutes conduct, 

\ for conduct is the working out of the commitments 
of belief. That believed better is held to, asserted, 
affirmed, acted upon. The moments of its crucial 
fulfilment are the natural " transcendentals " ; the 
decisive, the critical, standards of further estima- 
tion, selection, and rejection. That believed worse 
is fled, resisted, transformed into an instrument for 
the better. Characters, in being condensations of 
belief, are thus at once the reminders and the 
prognostications of weal and woe; they concrete 
and they regulate the terms of effective apprehen- 
sion and appropriation of things. This general 
regulative function is what we mean in calling 
them characters, forms. 

For beliefs, made in the course of existence, 

( reciprocate by making existence still farther, by 
developing it. Beliefs are not made by existence 


in a mechanical or logical or psychological sense. 
" Reality " naturally instigates belief. It ap- 
praises itself and through this self-appraisal man- 
ages its affairs. As things are surcharged valua- 
tions, so " consciousness " means ways of believing 
and disbelieving. It is interpretation ; not merely 
existence aware of itself as fact, but existence dis- 
cerning, judging itself, approving and disapprov- 

This double outlook and connection of belief, its 
implication, on one side, with beings who suffer 
and endeavor, and, its complication on the other, 
with the meanings and worths of things, is its glory 
or its unpardonable sin. We cannot keep con- 
nection on one side and throw it away on the 
other. We cannot preserve significance and de- 
cline the personal attitude in which it is inscribed 
and operative, any more than we can succeed in 
making things " states " of a " consciousness " 
whose business is to be an interpretation of things. 
Beliefs are personal affairs, and personal affairs 
are adventures, and adventures are, if you please, 
shady. But equally discredited, then, is the uni- 
verse of meanings. For the world has meaning 
as somebody's, somebody's at a juncture, taken for 
better or worse, and you shall not have completed 
your metaphysics till you have told whose world 
is meant and how and what for — in what bias and 
to what effect. Here is a cake that is had only 


by eating it, just as there is digestion only for 
life as well as by life. 

So far the standpoint of the common man. 
But the professional man, the philosopher, has been 
largely occupied in a systematic effort to discredit 
the standpoint of the common man, that is, to 
disable belief as an ultimately valid principle. Phi- 
losophy is shocked at the frank, almost brutal, 
evocation of beliefs by and in natural existence, 
like witches out of a desert heath — at a mode of 
production which is neither logical, nor physical, 
nor psychological, but just natural, empirical. 
For modern philosophy is, as every college senior 
recites, epistemology ; and epistemology, as per- 
haps our books and lectures sometimes forget to tell 
the senior, has absorbed Stoic dogma. Passionless 
imperturbability, absolute detachment, complete 
subjection to a ready-made and finished reality — 
physical it may be, mental it may be, logical it may 
be — is its professed ideal. Forswearing the reality 
of affection, and the gallantry of adventure, the 
genuineness of the incomplete, the tentative, it has 
taken an oath of allegiance to Reality, objective, 
universal, complete; made perhaps of atoms, per- 
haps of sensations, pefhaps of logical meanings. 
This ready-made reality, already including every- 
thing, must of course swallow and absorb belief, 
must produce it psychologically, mechanically, or 
logically, according to its own nature ; must in any 


case, instead of acquiring aid and support from 
belief, resolve it into one of its own preordained 
creatures, making a desert and calling it harmony, 
unity, totality. 1 

Philosophy has dreamed the dream of a knowl- 
edge which is other than the propitious outgrowth 
of beliefs that shall develop aforetime their ul- 
terior implications in order to recast them, to 
rectify their errors, cultivate their waste places, 
heal their diseases, fortify their feeblenesses: — the 
dream of a knowledge that has to do with objects 
having no nature save to be known. 

Not that their philosophers have admitted the 
concrete realizability of their scheme. On the 

1 Since writing the above I have read the following words 
of a candidly unsympathetic friend of philosophy: " Neither 
philosophy nor science can institute man's relation to the 
universe, because such reciprocity must have existed before 
any kind of science or philosophy can begin; since each 
investigates phenomena by means of the intellect, and in- 
dependent of the position and feeling of the investigator; 
whereas the relation of man to the universe is denned, not 
by the intellect alone, but by his sensitive perception aided 
by all his spiritual powers. However much one may assure 
and instruct a man that all real existence is an idea, that 
matter is made up of atoms, that the essence of life is cor- 
porality or will, that heat, light, movement, electricity, are 
different manifestations of one and the same energy, one 
cannot thereby explain to a being with pains, pleasures, 
hopes, and fears his position in the universe." Tolstoi, essay 
on " Religion and Morality," in " Essays, Letters, and Mis- 


contrary, the assertion of the absolute " Reality " 
of what is empirically unrealizable is a part of the 
scheme; the ideal of a universe of pure, cogni- 
tional objects, fixed elements in fixed relations. 
Sensationalist and idealist, positivist and trans- 
cendentalist, materialist and spiritualist, defining 
this object in as many differing ways as they have 
different conceptions of the ideal and method of 
knowledge, are at one in their devotion to an iden- 
tification of Reality with something that connects 
monopolistically with passionless knowledge, belief 
purged of all personal reference, origin, and out- 
look. 1 

What is to be said of this attempt to sever the 
cord which naturally binds together personal atti- 
tudes and the meaning of things? This much at 
least : the effort to extract meanings, values, from 
the beliefs that ascribe them, and to give the 
former absolute metaphysical validity while the 
latter are sent to wander as scapegoats in the wil- 

1 Hegel may be excepted from this statement. The habit 
of interpreting Hegel as a Neo-Kantian, a Kantian en- 
larged and purified, is a purely Anglo-American habit. 
This is no place to enter into the intricacies of Hegelian 
exegesis, but the subordination of both logical meaning, and 
of mechanical existence to Oeistj to life in its own develop- 
ing movement, would seem to stand out in any unbiased 
view of Hegel. At all events, I wish to recognize my own 
personal debt to Hegel for the view set forth in this paper, 
without, of course, implying that it represents Hegel's own 


derness of mere phenomena, is an attempt, which, 
as long as " our interest's on the dangerous edge 
of things," will attract an admiring, even if sus- 
picious, audience. Moreover, we may admit that 
the attempt to catch the universe of immediate 
experience, of action and passion, coming and 
going, to damn it in its present body in order ex- 
pressly to glorify its spirit to all eternity, to vali- 
date the meaning of beliefs by discrediting their 
natural existence, to attribute absolute worth to 
the intent of human convictions just because of 
the absolute worthlessness of their content — that 
the performance of this feat of virtuosity has 
developed philosophy to its present wondrous, if 
formidable, technique. 

But can we claim more than a succes d'estime? 
Consider again the nature of the effort. The 
world of immediate meanings, of the world em- 
pirically sustained in beliefs, is to be sorted out 
into two portions, metaphysically discontinuous, 
one of which shall alone be good and true " Real- 
ity," the fit material of passionless, beliefless knowl- 
edge ; while the other part, that which is excluded, 
shall be referred exclusively to belief and treated 
as mere appearance, purely subjective, impressions 
or effects in consciousness, or as that ludicrously 
abject modern discovery — an epiphenomenon. 
And this division into the real and the unreal is 
accomplished by the very individual whom his own 


" absolute " results reduce to phenomenality, in 
terms of the very immediate experience which is 
infected with worthlessness, and on the basis of 
preference, of selection that are declared to be 
unreal! Can the thing be done? 

Anyway, the snubbed and excluded factor may 
always reassert itself. The very pushing it out 
of " Reality " may but add to its potential energy, 
and invoke a more violent recoil. When affections 
and aversions, with the beliefs in which they record 
themselves and the efforts they exact, are re- 
duced to epiphenomena, dancing an idle attendance 
upon a reality complete without them, to which 
they vainly strive to accommodate themselves by 
mirroring, then may the emotions flagrantly burst 
forth with the claim that, as a friend of mine puts 
it, reason is only a fig leaf for their nakedness. 
When one man says that need, uncertainty, choice, 
novelty, and strife have no place in Reality, which 
is made up wholly of established things behaving 
by foregone rules, then may another man be pro- 
voked to reply that all such fixities, whether named 
atoms or God, whether they be fixtures of a sensa- 
tional, a positivistic, or an idealistic system, have 
existence and import only in the problems, needs, 
struggles, and instrumentalities of 'conscious 
agents and patients. For home rule may be found 
in the unwritten efficacious constitution of ex- 


That contemporaneously we are in the presence 
of such a reaction is apparent. Let us, in pursuit 
of our topic, inquire how it came about and why 
it takes the form that it takes. This considera- 
tion may not only occupy the hour, but may help 
diagram some future parallelogram of forces. 
The account calls for some sketching (1) of the 
historical tendencies which have shaped the situa- 
tion in which a Stoic theory of knowledge claims 
metai "lysical monopoly, and (2) of the tendencies 
that have furnished the despised principle of be- 
lief opportunity and means of reassertion. 


Imagination readily travels to a period when a 
gospel of intense, and, one may say, deliberate 
passionate disturbance appeared to be conquering 
the Stoic ideal of passionless reason; when the de- 
mand for individual assertion by faith against the 
established, embodied objective order was seem- 
ingly subduing the idea of the total subordination 
of the individual to the universal. By what course 
of events came about the dramatic reversal, in 
which an ethically conquered Stoicism became the 
conqueror, epistemologically, of Christianity? 

How are our imaginations haunted by the idea 
of what might have happened if Christianity had 


found ready to its hand intellectual formula- 
tions corresponding to its practical proclama- 
tions ! 

That the ultimate principle of conduct is affec- 
tional and volitional ; that God is love ; that access 
to the principle is by faith, a personal attitude; 
that belief, surpassing logical basis and warrant, 
works out through its own operation its own ful- 
filling evidence: such was the implied moral meta- 
physic of Christianity. But this implication needed 
to become a theory, a theology, a formulation; 
and in this need, it found no recourse save to 
philosophies that had identified true existence with 
the proper object of logical reason. For, in 
Greek thought, after the valuable meanings, the 
meanings of industry and art that appealed to sus- 
tained and serious choice, had given birth and 
status to reflective reason, reason denied its an- 
cestry of organized endeavor, and proclaimed itself 
in its function of self-conscious logical thought to 
be the author and warrant of all genuine things. 
Yet how nearly Christianity had found prepared 
for it the needed means of its own intellectual 
statement ! We recall Aristotle's account of moral 
knowing, and his definition of man. Man as man, 
he tells us, is a principle that may be termed 
either desiring thought or thinking desire. Not 
as pure intelligence does man know, but as an 
organization of desires effected through reflection 


upon their own conditions and consequences. What 
if Aristotle had only assimilated his idea of theo- 
retical to his notion of practical knowledge ! Be- 
cause practical thinking was so human, Aristotle 
rejected it in favor of pure, passionless cognition, 
something superhuman. Thinking desire is ex- 
perimental, is tentative, not absolute. It looks to 
the future and to the past for help in the future. 
It is contingent, not necessary. It doubly relates 
to the individual: to the individual thing as ex- 
perienced by an individual agent; not to the uni- 
versal. Hence desire is a sure sign of defect, of 
privation, of non-being, and seeks surcease in 
something which knows it not. Hence desiring 
reason culminating in beliefs relating to imperfect 
existence, stands forever in contrast with passion- 
less reason functioning in pure knowledge, logic- 
ally complete, of perfect being. 

I need not remind you how through Neo-Platon- 
ism, St. Augustine, and the Scholastic renaissance, 
these conceptions became imbedded in Christian 
philosophy; and what a reversal occurred of the 
original practical principle of Christianity. Be- 
lief is henceforth important because it is the mere 
antecedent in a finite and fallen world, a temporal 
and phenomenal world infected with non-being, of 
true knowledge to be achieved only in a world 
of completed Being. Desire is but the self-con- 
sciousness of defect striving to its own termination 


in perfect possession, through perfect knowledge of 
perfect being. I need not remind you that the 
prima facie subordination of reason to authority, 
of knowledge to faith, in the medieval code, is, after 
all, but the logical result of the doctrine that man 
as man (since only reasoning desire) is merely 
phenomenal; and has his reality in God, who as 
God is the complete union of rational insight and 
being — the term of man's desire, and the fulfilment 
of his feeble attempts at knowing. Authority, 
" faith " as it then had to be conceived, meant just 
that this Being comes externally to the aid of man, 
otherwise hopelessly doomed to misery in long 
drawn out error and non-being, and disciplines 
him till, in the next world under more favoring 
auspices, he may have his desires stilled in good, 
and his faith may yield to knowledge: — for we 
forget that the doctrine of immortality was not an 
appendage, but an integral part of the theory that 
since knowledge is the true function of man, happi- 
ness is attained only in knowledge, which itself 
exists only in achievement of perfect Being or God. 
For my part, I can but think that medieval 
absolutism, with its provision for authoritative 
supernatural assistance in this world and assertion 
of supernatural realization in the next, was more 
logical, as well as more humane, than the modern 
absolutism, that, with the same logical premises, 
bids man find adequate consolation and support in 


the fact that, after all, his strivings are already 
eternally fulfilled, his errors already eternally 
transcended, his partial beliefs already eternally 

The modern age is marked by a refusal to be 
satisfied with the postponement of the exercise and 
function of reason to another and supernatural 
sphere, and by a resolve to practise itself upon its 
present object, nature, with all the joys thereunto 
appertaining. The pure intelligence of Aristotle, 
thought thinking itself, expresses itself as free 
inquiry directed upon the present conditions of its 
own most effective exercise. The principle of the 
inherent relation of thought to being was pre- 
served intact, but its practical locus was moved 
down from the next world to this. Spinoza's 
" God or Nature " is the logical outcome ; as is also 
his strict correlation of the attribute of matter with 
the attribute of thought; while his combination 
of thorough distrust of passion and faith with 
complete faith in reason and all-absorbing passion 
for knowledge is so classic an embodiment of the 
whole modern contradiction that it may awaken ad- 
miration where less thorough-paced formulations 
call out irritation. 

In the practical devotion of present intelligence 
to its present object, nature, science was born, 
and also its philosophical counterpart, the theory 
of knowledge. Epistemology only generalized in 


its loose, although narrow and technical way, the 
question practically urgent in Europe: How is 
science possible? How can intelligence actively 
and directly get at its object? 

Meantime, through Protestantism the values, 
the meanings formerly characterizing the next life 
(the opportunity for full perception of perfect 
being), were carried over into present-day emo- 
tions and responses. 

The dualism between faith authoritatively sup- 
ported as the principle of this life, and knowledge 
supernaturally realized as the principle of the next, 
was transmuted into the dualism between intelli- 
gence now and here occupied with natural things, 
and the affections and accompanying beliefs, now 
And here realizing spiritual worths. For a time 
this dualism operated as a convenient division of 
labor. Intelligence, freed from responsibility for 
and preoccupation with supernatural truths, could 
occupy itself the more fully and efficiently with the 
world that now is; while the affections, charged 
with the values evoked in the medieval discipline, 
entered into the present enjoyment of the delecta- 
tions previously reserved for the saints. Direct- 
ness took the place of systematic intermediation; 
the present of the future; the individual's emo- 
tional consciousness of the supernatural institu- 
tion. Between science and faith, thus conceived, a 
bargain was struck. Hands off; each to his own, 


was the compact ; the natural world to intelligence, 
v the moral, the spiritual world to belief. This 
(natural) world for knowledge; that (supernatu- 
ral) world for belief. Thus the antithesis, unex- 
pressed, ignored, withm experience, between belief 
and knowledge, between the purely objective values 
of thought and the personal values of passion and 
/ volition, was more fundamental, more determining, 
than the opposition, explicit and harassing, within 
knowledge, between subject and object, mind and 

This latent antagonism worked out into the 
open. In scientific detail, knowledge encroached 
upon the historic traditions and opinions with 
which the moral and religious life had identified 
itself. It made history to be as natural, as much 
its spoil, as physical nature. It turned itself upon 
man, and proceeded remorselessly to account for 
his emotions, his volitions, his opinions. Knowl- 
edge, in its general theory, as philosophy, went 
the same way. It was pre-committed to the old 
notion: the absolutely real is the object of knowl- 
edge, and hence is something universal and im- 
personal. So, whether by the road of sensational- 
ism or rationalism, by the path of mechanicalism or 
objective idealism, it came about that concrete 
selves, specific feeling and willing beings, were 
relegated with the beliefs in which they declare 
themselves to the " phenomenal." 



So much for the situation against which some 
contemporary tendencies are a deliberate protest. 

What of the positive conditions that give us 
not mere protest, like the unreasoning revolt of 
heart against head found at all epochs, but some- 
thing articulate and constructive? The field is 
only too large, and I shall limit myself to the 
evolution of the knowledge standpoint itself. I 
shall suggest, first, that the progress of intelligence 
directed upon natural materials has evolved a pro- 
cedure of knowledge that renders untenable the 
inherited conception of knowledge; and, secondly, 
that this result is reinforced by the specific results 
of some of the special sciences. 

1. First, then, the very use of the knowledge 
standpoint, the very expression of the knowledge 
preoccupation, has produced methods and tests 
that, when formulated, intimate a radically differ- 
ent conception of knowledge, and of its relation to 
existence and belief, than the orthodox one. 

The one thing that stands out is that thinking 
is inquiry, and that knowledge as science is the 
outcome of systematically directed inquiry. For 
a time it was natural enough that inquiry should 
be interpreted in the old sense, as just change of 
subjective attitudes and opinions to make them 
square up with a " reality " that is already there 


in ready-made, fixed, and finished form. The 
rationalist had one notion of the reality, i.e., that it 
was of the nature of laws, genera, or an ordered 
system, and so thought of concepts, axioms, etc., 
as the indicated modes of representation. The 
empiricist, holding reality to be a lot of little dis- 
crete particular lumps, thought of disjointed sen- 
sations as its appropriate counterpart. But 
y^ both alike were thorough conformists. If " real- 
ity " is already and completely given, and if knowl- 
edge is just submissive acceptance, then, of course, 
inquiry is only a subjective change in the human 
" mind " or in " consciousness," — these being sub- 
jective and "unreal." 

But the very development of the sciences served 
to reveal a peculiar and intolerable paradox. 
Epistemology, having condemned inquiry once for 
all to the region of subjectivity in an invidious 
sense, finds itself in flat opposition in principle and 


in detail to the assumption and to the results of the 
sciences. Epistemology is bound to deny to the 
results of the special sciences in detail any ulterior 
objectivity just because they always are in a proc- 
ess of inquiry — in solution. While a man may not 
be halted at being told that his mental activities, 
since his, are not genuinely real, many men will 
draw violently back at being told that all the dis- 
coveries, conclusions, explanations, and theories of 
the sciences share the same fate, being the products 


of a discredited mind. And, in general, epistemol- 
°gy> in relegating human thinking as inquiry to a 
merely phenomenal region, makes concrete approx- 
imation and conformity to objectivity hopeless. 
Even if it did square itself up to and by " reality 7 
it never could be sure of it. The ancient myth of 
Tantalus and his effort to drink the water before 
him seems to be ingeniously prophetic of modern 
epistemology. The thirstier, the needier of truth 
the human mind, and the intenser the efforts put 
forth to slake itself in the ocean of being just 
beyond the edge of consciousness, the more surely 
the living waters of truth recede ! 

When such self-confessed sterility is joined with 
consistent derogation of all the special results of 
the special sciences, some one is sure to raise the cry 
of " dog in the manger," or of " sour grapes." A 
revision of the theory of thinking, of inquiry, would 
seem to be inevitable ; a revision which should cease 
trying to construe knowledge as an attempted ap- 
proximation to a reproduction of reality under con- 
ditions that condemn it in advance to failure; a 
revision which should start frankly from the fact 
of thinking as inquiring, and purely external re- 
alities as terms in inquiries, and which should con- 
strue validity, objectivity, truth, and the test and 
system of truths, on the basis of what they actu- 
ally mean and do within inquiry. 

Such a standpoint promises ample revenge for 


the long damnation and longer neglect to which 
the principle of belief has been subjected. The 
whole procedure of thinking as developed in those 
extensive and intensive inquiries that constitute 
the sciences, is but rendering into a systematic 
technique, into an art deliberately and delightfully 
pursued, the rougher and cruder means by which 
practical human beings have in all ages worked 
out the implications of their beliefs, tested them, 
and endeavored in the interests of economy, effi- 
ciency, and freedom, to render them coherent with 
one another. Belief, sheer, direct, unmitigated 
belief, reappears as the working hypothesis; 
action that at once develops and tests belief re- 
appears in experimentation, deduction, demon- 
stration ; while the machinery of universals, axioms, 
a priori truths, etc., becomes a systematization of 
the way in which men have always worked out, in 
anticipation of overt action, the implications of 
their beliefs, with a view to revising them, in the I 
interests of obviating unfavorable, and securing 
welcome consequences. Observation, with its ma- 
chinery of sensations, measurements, etc., is the 
resurrection of the way in which agents have always 
faced and tried to define the problems that face 
them ; truth is the union of abstract postulated \ 
meanings and of concrete brute facts in a way \ 
that circumvents the latter by judging them from 
a new standpoint, while it tests concepts by using 


them as methods in the same active experience. 
It all comes to experience personally conducted 
and personally consummated. 

Let consciousness of these facts dawn a little 
more brightly over the horizon of epistemological 
prejudices, and it will be seen that nothing pre- 
vents admitting the genuineness both of thinking 
activities and of their characteristic results, ex- 
cept the notion that belief itself is not a genuine 
ingredient of existence — a notion which itself is not 
only a belief, but a belief which, unlike the convic- 
tions of the common man and the hypotheses of 
science, finds its proud proof in the fact that it 
does not demean itself so unworthily as to work. 

Once believe that beliefs themselves are as 
" real " as anything else can ever be, and we have 
a world in which uncertainty, doubtfulness, really 
inhere; and in which personal attitudes and re- 
sponses are real both in their own distinctive ex- 
istence, and as the only ways in which an as yet 
undetermined factor of reality takes on shape, 
meaning, value, truth. If " to wilful men the in- 
juries that they themselves procure, must be their 
schoolmasters " — and all beliefs are wilful — then 
by the same token the propitious evolutions of 
meaning, which wilful men secure to an expectant 
universe, must be their compensation and their 
justification. In a doubtful and needy universe 
elements must be beggarly, and the development 


of personal beliefs into experimentally executed 
systems of actions, is the organized bureau of 
philanthropy which confers upon a travailing uni- 
verse the meaning for which it cries out. The 
apostrophe of the poet is above all to man the 
thinker, the inquirer, the knower: 

O Dreamer! O Desirer, goer down 
Unto untraveled seas in untried ships, 
O crusher of the unimagined grape, 
On unconceived lips. 

% Biology, psychology, and the social sciences 
proffer an imposing body of concrete facts that 
also point to the rehabilitation of belief — to the 
interpretation of knowledge as a human and prac- 

Itical outgrowth of belief, not to belief as the state 
to which knowledge is condemned in a merely finite 
and phenomenal world. I need not, as I cannot, 
here summarize the psychological revision which 
the notions of sensation, perception, conception, 
cognition in general have undergone, all to one in- 
tent. " Motor " is writ large on their face. The 
testimony of biology is unambiguous to the effect 
that the organic instruments of the whole intel- 

Ilectual life, the sense-organs and brain and their 
connections, have been developed on a definitely 
practical basis and for practical aims, for the 
purpose of such control over conditions as will 
sustain and vary the meanings of life. The his- 


toric sciences are equally explicit in their evidence 
that knowledge as a system of information and 
instruction is a cooperative social achievement, 
at all times socially toned, sustained, and directed ; 
and that logical thinking is a reweaving through 
individual activity of this social fabric at such 
points as are indicated by prevailing needs and 

This bulky and coherent body of testimony is 
not, of course, of itself philosophy. But it sup- 
plies, at all events, facts that have scientific back- 
ing, and that are as worthy of regard as the facts 
pertinent to any science. At the present time these 
facts seem to have some peculiar claim just be- 
cause they present traits largely ignored in prior 
philosophic formulations, while those belonging to 
mathematics and physics have so largely wrought 
their sweet will on systems. Again, it would seem 
as if in philosophies built deliberately upon the 
knowledge principle, any body of known facts 
should not have to clamor for sympathetic atten- 

Such being the case, the reasons for ruling 
psychology and sociology and allied sciences out of 
competency to give philosophic testimony have 
more significance than the bare denial of juris- 
diction. They are evidences of the deep-rooted 
preconception that whatever concerns a particular 
conscious agent, a wanting, struggling, satisfied 


and dissatisfied being, must of course be only " phe- 
nomenal " in import. 

This aversion is the more suggestive when the 
professed idealist appears as the special champion 
of the virginity of pure knowledge. The idealist, 
so content with the notion that consciousness de- 
termines reality, provided it be done once for all, 
at a jump and in lump, is so uneasy in presence 
of the idea that empirical conscious beings genu- 
inely determine existences now and here! One is 
reminded of the story told, I think, by Spencer. 
Some committee had organized and contended, 
through a long series of parliaments, for the 
passage of a measure. At last one of their meet- 
ings was interrupted with news of success. Con- 
sternation was the result. What was to become 
of the occupation of the committee? So, one asks, 
what is to become of idealism at large, of the 
wholesale unspecifiable determination of " reality " 
by or in " consciousness," if specific conscious be- 
ings, John Smiths, and Susan Smiths (to say noth- 
ing of their animal relations), beings with bowels 
and brains, are found to exercise influence upon 
the character and existence of reals? 

One would be almost justified in construing 
idealism as a Pickwickian scheme, so willing is it to 
idealize the principle of intelligence at the expense 
of its specific undertakings, were it not that this 
reluctance is the necessary outcome of the Stoic 


basis and tenor of idealism — its preoccupation 
with logical contents and relations in abstraction 
from their situs and function in conscious living 


I have suggested to you the naive conception of 
the relation of beliefs to realities : that beliefs are 
themselves real without discount, manifesting their 
reality in the usual proper way, namely, by modify- 
ing and shaping the reality of other things, so that 
they connect the bias, the preferences and affec- 
tions, the needs and endeavors of personal lives 
with the values, the characters ascribed to things : 
— the latter thus becoming worthy of human ac- 
quaintance and responsive to human intercourse. 
This was followed by a sketch of the history of 
thought, indicating how beliefs and all they in- 
sinuate were subjected to preconceived notions of 
knowledge and of " reality " as a monopolistic pos- 
session of pure intellect. Then I traced some of 
the motifs that make for reconsideration of the 
supposed uniquely exclusive relation of logical 
knowledge and " reality " ; motifs that make for a 
less invidiously superior attitude towards the con- 
victions of the common man. 

In concluding, I want to say a word or two to 
mitigate — for escape is impossible — some misun- 


derstandings. And, to begin with, while possible 
doubts inevitably troop with actual beliefs, the doc- 
trine in question is not particularly sceptical. The 
radical empiricist, the humanist, the pragmatist, 
label him as you will, believes not in fewer but in 
more " realities " than the orthodox philosophers 
warrant. He is not concerned, for example, in 
I discrediting objective realities and logical or uni- 
versal thinking; he is interested in such a reinter- 
pretation of the sort of " reality " which these 
things possess as will accredit, without deprecia- 
tion, concrete empirical conscious centers of action 
and passion. 

My second remark is to the opposite effect. The 
intent is not especially credulous, although it starts 
from and ends with the radical credulity of all 
knowledge. To suppose that because the sciences 
are ultimately instrumental to human beliefs, we 
are therefore to be careless of the most exact possi- 
ble use of extensive and systematic scientific 
methods, is like supposing that because a watch is 
made to tell present time, and not to be an exem- 
plar of transcendent, absolute time, watches might 
as well be made of cheap stuffs, casually wrought 
and clumsily put together. It is the task of telling 
present time, with all its urgent implications* that 
brings home, steadies, and enlarges the responsi- 
bility for the best possible use of intelligence, the 


For one, I have no interest in the old, old scheme 
of derogating from the worth of knowledge in 
order to give an uncontrolled field for some special 
beliefs to run riot in, — be these beliefs even faith 
in immortality, in some special sort of a Deity, 
or in some particular brand of freedom. Any one 
of our beliefs is subject to criticism, revision, and 
even ultimate elimination through the development 
of its own implications by intelligently directed 
action. Because reason is a scheme of working out 
the meanings of convictions in terms of one an- 
other and of the consequences they import in 
further experience, convictions are the more, not 
the less, amenable and responsible to the full exer- 
cise of reason. 1 

Thus we are put on the road to that most de- 

1 There will of course come in time with the development 
of this point of view an organon of beliefs. The signs of 
a genuine as against a simulated belief will be studied; 
belief as a vital personal reaction will be discriminated from 
habitual, incorporate, unquestioned (because unconsciously 
exercised) traditions of social classes and professions. In 
his "Will to Believe" Professor James has already laid 
down two traits of genuine belief (viz., " forced option," 
and acceptance of responsibility for results) which are 
almost always ignored in criticisms (really caricatures) of 
his position. In the light of such an organon, one might 
come to doubt whether belief in, say, immortality (as dis- 
tinct from hope on one side and a sort of intellectual bal- 
ance of probability of opinion on the other) can genuinely 
exist at all. 


sirable thing, — the union of acknowledgment of 
moral powers and demands with thoroughgoing- '. 
naturalism. No one really wants to lame man's 
practical nature; it is the supposed exigencies of 
natural science that force the hand. No one 
really bears a grudge against naturalism for the 
sake of obscurantism. It is the need of some sacred 
reservation for moral interests that coerces. We 
all want to be as naturalistic as we can be. But 
the " can be " is the rub. If we set out with a 
fixed dualism of belief and knowledge, then the 
uneasy fear that the natural sciences are going to 
encroach and destroy " spiritual values " haunts 
us. So we build them a citadel and fortify it; 
that is, we isolate, professionalize, and thereby 
weaken beliefs. But if beliefs are the most natu- V 
ral, and in that sense, the most metaphysical of 
all things, and if knowledge is an organized tech- 
nique for working out their implications and in- 
terrelations, for directing their formation and em- 
ploy, how unnecessary, how petty the fear and the 
caution. Because freedom of belief is ours, free 
thought may exercise itself; the freer the thought 
the more sure the emancipation of belief. Hug 
some special belief and one fears knowledge; be- 
lieve in belief and one loves and cleaves to knowl- 

We have here, too, the possibility of a common 
understanding, in thought, in language, in outlook, 


of the philosopher and the common man. What 
would not the philosopher give, did he not have 
to part with some of his common humanity in order 
to join a class? Does he not always, when chal- 
lenged, justify himself with the contention that all 
men naturally philosophize, and that he but does 
in a conscious and orderly way what leads to 
harm when done in an indiscriminate and irreg- 
ular way ? If philosophy be at once a natural his- 
tory and a logic — an art — of beliefs, then its tech- 
nical justification is at one with its human justi- 
fication. The natural attitude of man, said Emer- 
son, is believing ; " the philosopher, after some 
struggle, having only reasons for believing." Let 
the struggle then enlighten and enlarge beliefs; 
let the reasons kindle and engender new beliefs. 

Finally, it is not a solution, but a problem which 
is presented. As philosophers, our disagreements 
as to conclusions are trivial compared with our dis- 
agreement as to problems. To see the problem 
another sees, in the same perspective and at the 
same angle — that amounts to something. Agree- 
ment in solutions is in comparison perfunctory. 
To experience the same problem another feels — 
that perhaps is agreement. In a world where dis- 
tinctions are as invidious as comparisons are odi- 
ous, and where intellect works only by comparison 
and distinction, pray what is one to do? 

But beliefs are personal matters, and the person, 


we may still believe, is social. To be a man is to 
be thinking desire ; and the agreement of desires is 
not in oneness of intellectual conclusion, but in the 
sympathies of passion and the concords of action : 
— and yet significant union in affection and be- 
havior may depend upon a consensus in thought 
that is secured only by discrimination and com- 


IDEALISM as a philosophic system stands in 
such a delicate relation to experience as to in- 
vite attention. In its subjective form, or sensa- 
tionalism, it claims to be the last word of empiri- - 
cism. In its objective, or rational form, it claims 
to make good the deficiencies of the subjective type, 
by emphasizing the work of thought that supplies i~ 
the factors of objectivity and universality lacking 
in sensationalism. With reference to experience 
as it now is, such idealism is half opposed to em- 
piricism and half committed to it, — antagonistic, 
so far as existing experience is regarded as tainted i 
with a sensational character; favorable, so far as 
this experience is even now prophetic of some final,, 
all-comprehensive, or absolute experience, which 
in truth is one with reality. 

That this combination of opposition to present 
experience with devotion to the cause of experience 

1 Reprinted, with slight verbal changes, from the PhUo* 
tophical Review, Vol. XV. (1906). 



in the abstract leaves objective idealism in a posi- 
tion of unstable equilibrium from which it can find 
release only by euthanasia in a thorough-going 
empiricism seems evident. Some of the reasons for 
this belief may be readily approached by a sum- 
mary sketch of three historic episodes in which have 
emerged important conceptions of experience and 
its relation to reason. The first takes us to classic 
Greek thought. Here experience means the preser- 
vation, through memory, of the net result of a mul- 
tiplicity of particular doings and sufferings; a 
preservation that affords positive skill in main- 
taining further practice, and promise of success in 
new emergencies. The craft of the carpenter, the 
art of the physician are standing examples of its 
nature. It differs from instinct and blind routine 
or servile practice because there is some knowledge 
of materials, methods, and aims, in their adjust- 4 
ment to one another. Yet the marks of its passive, 
habitual origin are indelibly stamped upon it. On ' 
the knowledge ^siple it can never aspire beyond opin- 
ion, and if true opinion be achieved, it is only by ' 
happy chance. On the active side it is limited to 
the accomplishment of a special work or a particu- 
lar product, following some unjustified, because 
assumed, method. Thus it contrasts with the true 
knowledge of reason, which is direct apprehension, 
self-revealing and self-validating, of an eternal 
and harmonious content. The regions in which 


experience and reason respectively hold sway are 
thus explained. Experience has to do with pro- 
duction, which, in turn, is relative to decay. It 
deals with generation, becoming, not with finality, 
being. Hence it is infected with the trait of rela- 
* tive non-being, of mere imitativeness ; hence its 
multiplicity, its logical inadequacy, its relativity 
to a standard and end beyond itself. Reason, per 
contra, has to do with meaning, with significance 
(ideas, forms), that is eternal and ultimate. Since 
the meaning of anything is the worth, the good, 
the end of that thing, experience presents us with 
partial and tentative efforts to achieve the em- 
bodiment of purpose, under conditions that doom 
the attempt to inconclusiveness. It has, how- 
ever, its meed of reality in the degree in which 
its results participate in meaning, the good, 

From this classic period, then, comes the an- 
tithesis of experience as the historically achieved 
embodiments of meaning, partial, multiple, inse- 
cure, to reason as the source, author, and con- 
tainer of meanmg, permanent, assured, unified. 
Idealism means ideality, experience means brute 
and broken facts. That things exist because of 
and for the sake of meaning, and that experience i 
gives us meaning in a servile, interrupted, and 
inherently deficient way — such is the standpoint. 
Experience gives us meaning in process of be- 


coming ; special and isolated instances in which it 
htzppens, temporally, to appear, rather than mean- 
ing pure, undefiled, independent. Experience pre- 
sents purpose, the good, struggling against obsta- 
cles, "involved in matter." 

Just how much the vogue of modern neo-Kan- 
tian idealism, professedly built upon a strictly epis- 
temological instead of upon a cosmological basis, 
is due, in days of a declining theology, to a vague 
sense that affirming the function of reason in the 
constitution of a knowable world (which in its own 
constitution as logically knowable may be, morally 
and spiritually, anything you please), carries with 
it an assurance of the superior reality of the good 
and the beautiful as well as of the " true," it would 
be hard to say. Certainly unction seems to have 
descended upon epistemology, in apostolic succes- 
sion, from classic idealism ; so that neo-Kantianism 
is rarely without a tone of edification, as if feeling 
itself the patron of man's spiritual interests in* 
contrast to the supposed crudeness and insensitive- 
ness of naturalism and empiricism. At all events, 
we find here one element in our problem: Ex- 
perience considered as the summary of past epi- 
sodic adventures and happenings in relation to ful- 
filled and adequately expressed meaning. 

The second historic event centers about the con- 
troversy of innate ideas, or pure concepts. The 
issue is between empiricism and rationalism as the- 


ories of the origin and validation of scientific 
knowledge. The empiricist is he who feels that 
the chief obstacle which prevents scientific method 
from making way is the belief in pure thoughts, 
not derived from particular observations and hence' 
not responsible to the course of experience. His 
objection to the " high a priori road " is that it 
introduces in irresponsible fashion a mode of pre- 
sumed knowledge which may be used at any turn 
to stand sponsor for mere tradition and prejudice^ 
and thus to nullify the results of science resting 
upon and verified by observable facts. Experi- 
ence thus comes to mean, to use the words of 
Peirce, " that which is forced upon a man's recog- 
nition will-he, nill-he, and shapes his thoughts to 
something quite different from what they natur- 
ally would have taken." l The same definition is 
found in James, in his chapter on Necessary 
Truths : " Experience means experience of some- 
thing foreign supposed to impress us whether 
spontaneously or in consequence of our own ex- 
ertions and acts." 2 As Peirce points out, this 
notion of experience as the foreign element that 
forces the hand of thought and controls its 
efficacy, goes back to Locke. Experience is " ob- 
servation employed either about external sensible 
objects, or about the internal operations of our 

1 C. S. Peirce, Monist, Vol. XVI., p. 150. 
8 Psychology, Vol. II., p. 618. 


I minds " s — as furnishing in short all the valid data 
and tests of thinking and knowledge. This meaning, 
thinks Peirce, should be accepted " as a landmark 
which it would be a crime to disturb or displace." 
The contention of idealism, here bound up with 
rationalism, is that perception and observation 
cannot guarantee knowledge in its honorific sense ' 
(science) ; that the peculiar differentia of scientific 
knowledge is a constancy, a universality, and neces- 
sity that contrast at every point with perceptual* 
data, and that indispensably require the function 
of conception. 2 In short, qualitative transforma- 
tion of facts (data of perception), not their me- f 
chanical subtraction and recombination, is the dif- 
ference between scientific and perceptual knowl- 
edge. Here the problem which emerges is, of 

\ course, the significance of perception and of con- 
ception in respect to experience. 3 

1 " Essay concerning Human Understanding," Book II., 
Chapter II., § 2. Locke doubtless derived this notion from 

3 It is hardly necessary to refer to the stress placed upon 
mathematics, as well as upon fundamental propositions in 
logic, ethics, and cosmology. 

* Of course there are internal historic connections between 
experience as effective " memory," and experience as " ob-*- 
servation." But the motivation and stress, the problem, has% 
quite shifted. It may be remarked that Hobbes still writes 
under the influence of the Aristotelian conception. " Ex- 
perience is nothing but Memory " ("Elements of Philosophy," 
Part I., Chapter I., §2), and hence is opposed to science. 


The third episode reverses in a curious man- 
ner (which confuses present discussion) the notion 
of experience as a foreign, alien, coercive material. 
It regards experience as a fortuitous association, 
by merely psychic connections, of individualistic 
states of consciousness. This is due to the Humian 
development of Locke. The " objects " and " op- 
erations," which to Locke were just given and 
secured in observation, become shifting complexes 
of subjective sensations and ideas, whose apparent 
permanency is due to discoverable illusions. This, 
of course, is the empiricism which made Kant so 
uneasily toss in his dogmatic slumbers (a tossing 
that he took for an awakening) ; and which, by re- 
action, called out the conception of thought as a 
function operating both to elevate perceptual 
data to scientific status, and also to confer ob- 
jective status, or knowable character, upon even 
sensational data and their associative combina- 
tions. 1 Here emerges the third element in our 
problem: The function of thought as furnishing 

1 There are, of course, anticipations of Hume in Locke. 
But to regard Lockeian experience as equivalent to Humian 
is to pervert history. Locke, as he was to himself and to 
the century succeeding him, was not a subjectivist, but in the 
i main a common sense objectivist. It was this that gave him 
his historic influence. But so completely has the Hume- 
Kant controversy dominated recent thinking that it is con- 
stantly projected backward. Within a few weeks I have 
seen three articles, all insisting that the meaning of the 


objectivity to any experience that claims cognitive 
reference or capacity. 

Summing up the matter, idealism stands forth 
with its assertion of thought or reason as (1) the 
sponsor for all significance, ideality, purpose, in 
experience, — the author of the good and the beauti- 
ful as well as the true; (2) the power, located in 
pure conceptions, required to elevate perceptive or 
observational material to the plane of science ; and 
(3) the constitution that gives objectivity, even 
the semblance of order, system, connection, mutual ~ 
reference, to sensory data that without its assist- 
ance are mere subjective flux. 

term experience must be subjective, and stating or implying 
that those who take the term objectively are subverters of 
established usage! But a casual study of the dictionary 
will reveal that experience has always meant " what is ex- 
perienced," observation as a source of knowledge, as well as 
the act, fact, or mode of experiencing. In the Oxford Dic- 
tionary, the (obsolete) sense of " experimental testing," of 
actual "observation of facts and events," and "the fact of 
being consciously affected by an act " have almost con- 
temporaneous datings, viz., 1384, 1377, and 1382 respectively. 
A usage almost more objective than the second, the Baconian 
use, is "what has been experienced; the events that have 
taken place within the knowledge of an individual, a com- 
munity, mankind at large, either during a particular period 
or generally." This dates back to 1607. Let us have no 
more captious criticisms and plaints based on ignorance of 
linguistic usage. [This pious wish has not been met J. D., 



I begin the discussion with the last-named func- 
tion. Thought is here conceived as a priori, not 
in the sense of particular innate ideas, but of a 
function that constitutes the very possibility ofi 
any objective experience, any experience involving 
reference beyond its own mere subjective happen- 
ing. I shall try to show that idealism is con- 
demned to move back and forth between two in- 
consistent interpretations of this a priori thought. 
It is taken to mean both the organized, the regu- 
lated, the informed, established character of ex J 
perience, an order immanent and constitutional; 
and an agency which organizes, regulates, forms^ 
synthesizes, a power operative and constructive. 
And the oscillation between and confusion of these 
two diverse senses is necessary to Neo-Kantian 

When Kant compared his work in philosophy to 
that of the men who introduced construction into 
geometry, and experimentation into physics and 
chemistry, the point of his remarks depends upon 
taking the a priori worth of thought in a regula- 
tive, directive, controlling sense, thought as con-" 
sciously, intentionally, making an experience differ- 
ent in a determinate sense and manner. But the 
point of his answer to Hume consists in taking the 
a priori in the other sense, as something which 


is already immanent in any experience, and which 
accordingly makes no determinate difference to any 
one experience as compared with any other, or with 
any past or future form of itself. The concept is . 
treated first as that which makes an experience 
actually different, controlling its evolution towards 
consistency, coherency, and objective reliability; 
then, it is treated as that which has already effected > 
the organization of any and every experience that 
comes to recognition at all. The fallacy from 
which he never emerges consists in vibrating be- 
tween the definition of a concept as a rule of con-_^ 
structive synthesis in a differential sense, and the 
definition of it as a static endowment lurking in 
u mind," and giving automatically a hard and fixed 
law for the determination of every experienced 
object. The a priori conceptions of Kant as im- 
manent fall, like the rain, upon the just and the 
unjust; upon error, opinion, and hallucination. 
But Kant slides into these a priori functions the 
preferential values exercised by empirical reflect- 
ive thought. The concept of triangle, taken geo- 
metrically, means doubtless a determinate method 
of construing space elements; but to Kant it also 
means something that exists in the mind prior to 
all such geometrical constructions and that un- 
consciously lays down the law not only for their 
conscious elaboration, but also for any space per- 
ception, even for that which takes a rectangle to 



be a triangle. The first of the meanings is intelli- 
gible, and marks a definite contribution to the logic 
of science. But it is not "objective idealism"; 
it is a contribution to a revised empiricism. The 
second is a dark saying. 

That organization of some sort exists in every 
experience I make no doubt. That isolation, dis- 
crepancy, the fragmentary, the incompatible, are 
brought to recognition and to logical function only 
with reference to some prior existential mode of 
organization seems clear. And it seems equally 
clear that reflection goes on with profit only be- 
cause the materials with which it deals have al- 
ready some degree of organization, or exemplify 
various relationships. As against Hume, or even 
Locke, we may be duly grateful to Kant for en- 
forcing acknowledgment of these facts. But the 
acknowledgment means simply an improved and 
revised empiricism. 

For, be it noted, this organization, first, is not 
the work of reason or thought, unless " reason " be 
stretched beyond all identification; and, secondly, 
it has no sacrosanct or finally valid and worth- 
f ul character. ( 1 ) Experience always carries with 
it and within it certain systematized arrangements, »/ 
certain classifications (using the term without in- 
tellectualistic prejudice), coexistent and serial. If 
we attribute these to " thought " then the structure 
of the brain of a Mozart which hears and combines 


sounds in certain groupings, the psycho-physical 
visual habit of the Greek, the locomotor apparatus 
of the human body in the laying-out and plotting 
of space is " thought." Social institutions, es- 
tablished political customs, effect and perpetuate 
modes of reaction and of perception that compel 
a certain grouping of objects, elements, and values. 
A national constitution brings about a definite 
arrangement of the factors of human action which 
holds even physical things together in certain 
determinate orders. Every successful economic 
process, with its elaborate divisions and adjust- 
ments of labor, of materials and instruments, is 
just such an objective organization. Now it is one 
thing to say that thought has played a part in 
the origin and development of such organizations, I 
and continues to have a role in their judicious em- 
ployment and application ; it is another to say that 
these organizations are thought, or are its ex- 1 
elusive product. Thought that functions in these 
ways is distinctively reflective thought, thought as 
practical, volitional, deliberately exercised for spe- 
cific aims — thought as an act, an art of skilled 
mediation. As reflective thought, its end is to 
terminate its own first and experimental forms, and 
to secure an organization which, while it may evoke 
new reflective thinking, puts an end to the think- 
ing that secured the organization. As organiza- 
tions, as established, effectively controlling ar- 


rangements of objects in experience, their mark 
is that they are not thoughts, but habits, customs 
of action. 1 

Moreover, such reflective thought as does inter- 
vene in the formation and maintenance of these 
practical organizations harks back to prior prac- 
tical organizations, biological and social in nature. 
It serves to valuate organizations already existent 
as biological functions and instincts, while, as itself 
a biological activity, it redirects them to new con- 
ditions and results. Recognize, for example, that 
a geometric concept is a practical locomotor 
function of arranging stimuli in reference to main- 
tenance of life activities brought into consciousness, 
and then serving as a center of reorganization of 
such activities to freer, more varied flexible and 
valuable forms; recognize this, and we have the 
truth of the Kantian idea, without its excrescences 
and miracles. The concept is the practical activ- 
ity doing consciously and artfully what it had 
aforetime done blindly and aimlessly, and thereby 
not only doing it better but opening up a freer 
world of significant activities. Thought as such a 
reorganization of natural functions does naturally 


1 The relationship of organization and thought is precisely 
that which we find psychologically typified by the rhythmic 
functions of habit and attention, attention being always, 
ab quo, a sign of the failure of habit, and, ad quern, a recon- 
structive modification of habit 


what Kantian forms and schematizations do only 
supernaturally. In a word, the constructive or 
organizing activity of " thought " does not inhere 
in thought as a transcendental function, a form or 
mode of some supra-empirical ego, mind, or con- 
sciousness, but in thought as itself vital activity. 
And in any case we have passed to the idea of 
thought as reflectively reconstructive and direc- 
tive, and away from the notion of thought as 
immanently constitutional and organizational. 
To make this passage and yet to ignore its 
existence and import is essential to objective 

(2) No final or ultimate validity attaches to 
these original arrangements and institutionaliza- 
tions in any case. Their value is teleological and J 
experimental, not fixedly ontological. " Law and 
order " are good things, but not when they become 
rigidity, and create mechanical uniformity or rou- 
tine. Prejudice is the acme of the a priori. Of 
the a priori in this sense we may say what is always 
to be said of habits and institutions : They are good 
servants, but harsh and futile masters. Organi- 
zation as already effected is always in danger of 
becoming a mortmain; it may be a way of sacri- 
ficing novelty, flexibility, freedom, creation to 
static standards. The curious inefficiency of ideal- 
ism at this point is evident in the fact that genuine 
thought, empirical reflective thought, is required 


precisely for the purpose of re-forming established 
and set formations. 

In short, (a) a priori character is no exclusive 
function of thought. Every biological function, 
every motor attitude, every vital impulse as the 
carrying vehicle of experience is thus apriority 
regulative in prospective reference; what we call 
apperception, expectation, anticipation, desire, de- 

* mand, choice, are pregnant with this constitu- 
tive and organizing power. (o) In so far as 

" thought " does exercise such reorganizing power, Z^i 
it is because thought is itself still a vital function, 
(c) Objective idealism depends not only upon ig- 
noring the existence and capacity of vital func- 
tions, but upon a profound confusion of the con- 
stitutional a priori, the unconsciously dominant, 
with empirically reflective thought. In the sense 
in which the a priori is worth while as an attribute 

* of thought, thought cannot be what the objective 
idealist defines it as being. Plain, ordinary, every- 
day empirical reflections, operating as centers of 
inquiry, of suggestion, of experimentation, exer- 
cise the valuable function of regulation, in an 
auspicious direction, of subsequent experiences. 

The categories of accomplished systematization 
cover alike the just and the unjust, the false and 
the true, while (unlike God's rain) they exercise 
no specific or differential activity of stimulation 
and control. Error and inefficiency, as well as 


value and energy, are embodied in our objective 
institutional classifications. As a special favor, 
will not the objective idealist show how, in some 
one single instance, his immanent " reason " makes 
any difference as respects the detection and elimi-* 
nation of error, or gives even the slightest assist- 
ance in discovering and validating the truly worth- 
ful? This practical work, the life blood of in- 
telligence in everyday life and in critical science, is 
done by the despised and rejected matter of con- 
crete empirical contexts and functions. General- 
izing the issue: If the immanent organization be 
ascribed to thought, why should its work be such 
as to demand continuous correction and revision? 
If specific reflective thought, as empirical, be sub- 
ject to all the limitations supposed to inhere in 
experience as such, how can it assume the burden 
of making good, of supplementing, reconstruct- 
ing, and developing meanings? The logic of the 
case seems to be that Neo-Kantian idealism gets 
its status against empiricism by first accepting 
the Humian idea of experience, while the express 
import of its positive contribution is to show the 
non-existence (not merely the cognitive invalidity) 
of anything describable as mere states of subjective 
consciousness. Thus in the end it tends to destroy 
itself and to make way for a more adequate em- 



In the above discussion, I have unavoidably an- 
ticipated the second problem: the relation of con- 
ceptual thought to perceptual data. A distinct 
aspect still remains, however. Perception, as well 
as apriority, is a term harboring a fundamental 
ambiguity. It may mean (1) a distinct type of 
activity, predominantly practical in character, 
though carrying at its heart important cognitive 
and esthetic qualities; or (2) a distinctively cog- 
nitional experience, the function of observation as 
explicitly logical — a factor in science qua science. 

In the first sense, as recent functional empiricism 
(working in harmony with psychology, but not 
itself peculiarly psychological) has abundantly 
shown, perception is primarily an act of adjust- 
ment of organism and environment, differing from 
a mere reflex or instinctive adaptation in that, in 
order to compensate for the failure of the instinc- 
tive adjustment, it requires an objective or dis- 
criminative presentation of conditions of action: 
the negative conditions or obstacles, and the posi- 
tive conditions or means and resources. 1 This, of 

1 Compare, for example, Dr. Stuart's paper in the " Studies 
in Logical Theory," pp. 253-256. I may here remark that I 
remain totally unable to see how the interpretation of ob- 
jectivity to mean controlling conditions of action (nega- 
tive and positive as above) derogates at all from its naive 


course, is its cognitive phase. In so far as the 
material thus presented not only serves as a direct 
cue to further successful activity (successful in 
the overcoming of obstacles to the maintenance of 
the function entered upon) but presents auxiliary 
collateral objects and qualities that give addi- 
tional range and depth of meaning to the activity 
of adjustment, perceiving is esthetic as well as 
intellectual. 1 

Now such perception cannot be made antithetical 
to thought, for it may itself be surcharged with 
any amount of imaginatively supplied and reflect- 
ively sustained ideal factors — such as are needed 
to determine and select relevant stimuli and to 
suggest and develop an appropriate plan and 
course of behavior. The amount of such saturat- 
ing intellectual material depends upon the com- 
plexity and maturity of the behaving agent. Such 
perception, moreover, is strictly teleological, since j 
it arises from an experienced need and functions to 
fulfil the purpose indicated by this need. The 
cognitional content is, indeed, carried by affec-i 
tional and intentional contexts. 

objectivity, or how it connotes cognitive subjectivity, or is 
in any way incompatible with a common-sense realistic 
theory of perception. 

1 For this suggested interpretation of the esthetic as sur- 
prising, or unintended, gratuitous collateral reinforcement, 
see Gordon, "Psychology of Meaning." 


Then we have perception as scientific observa- 
tion. This involves the deliberate, artful exclu- 
sion of affectional and purposive factors as exer- 
cising mayhap a vitiating influence upon the cog- 
nitive or objective content; or, more strictly speak- 
ing, a transformation of the more ordinary or 
" natural " emotional and purposive concomitants, 
into what Bain calls "neutral" emotion, and a 
purpose of finding out what the present conditions 
of the problem are. (The practical feature is not 
thus denied or eliminated, but the overweening in- 
fluence of a present dominating end is avoided, so 
that change of the character of the end may be 
effected, if found desirable.) Here observation 
may be opposed to thought, in the sense that exact 
and minute description may be set over against 
interpretation, explanation, theorizing, and infer- 
ence. In the wider sense of thought as equaling 
reflective process, the work of observation and de- 
scription forms a constituent division of labor 
within thought. The impersonal demarcation and 
accurate registration of what is objectively there 
or present occurs for the sake (a) of eliminating 
meaning which is habitually but uncritically re- 
ferred, and (b) of getting a basis for a meaning 
(at first purely inferential or hypothetical) that 
may be consistently referred; and that (c), rest- 
ing upon examination and not upon mere a priori 
custom, may weather the strain of subsequent ex- 


periences. But in so far as thought is identified 
with the conceptual phase as such of the entire 
logical function, observation is, of course, set over' 
against thought: deliberately, purposely, and art- 
fully so. 

It is not uncommon to hear it said that the 
Lockeian movement was all well enough for psy- 
chology, but went astray because it invaded the 
field of logic. If we mean by psychology a natu- 
ral history of what at any time passes for knowl- 
edge, and by logic conscious control in the direc- 
tion of grounded assurance, this remark appears 
to reverse the truth. As a natural history of 
knowledge in the sense of opinion and belief, 
Locke's account of discrete, simple ideas or mean- 
ings, which are compounded and then distributed, 
does palpable violence to the facts. But every 
line of Locke shows that he was interested in knowl- 
edge in its honorific sense — controlled certainty, 
or, where this is not feasible, measured probability. 
And to logic as an account of the way in which 
we by arfTmild up a tested assurance, a rational- 
ized conviction, Locke makes an important positive 
contribution. The pity is that he inclined to 
take it for the whole of the logic of science, 1 not 
seeing that it was but a correlative division of 

1 This, however, is not strictly true, since Locke goes far to 
supply the means of his own correction in his account of the 
" workmanship of the understanding." 


labor to the work of hypotheses or inference ; and 
that he tended to identify it with a natural his- 
tory or psychology. The latter tendency exposed 
Locke to the Humian interpretation, and perma- 
nently sidetracked the positive contribution of his 
theory to logic, while it led to that confusion of 
an untrue psychology with a logic valid within 
limits, of which Mill is the standard example. 

In analytic observation, it is a positive object 
to strip off all inferential meaning so far as may 
be — to reduce the facts as nearly as may be to 
derationalized data, in order to make possible a 
new and better rationalization. In and because of 
this process, the perceptual data approach the 
limit of a disconnected manifold, of the brutely 
given, of the merely sensibly present; while mean- 
ing stands out as a searched for principle of uni- 
fication and explanation, that is, as a thought, a 
concept, an hypothesis. The extent to which this 
is carried depends wholly upon the character of 
the specific situation and problem; but, speaking 
generally, or of limiting tendencies, one may say 
it is carried to mere observation, pure brute de- 
scription, on the one side, and to mere thought, 
that is hypothetical inference, on the other. 

So far as Locke ignored this instrumental char- 
acter of observation, he naturally evoked and 
strengthened rationalistic idealism ; he called forth 
its assertion of the need of reason, of concepts, of 


universals, to constitute knowledge in its eulogistic 
sense. But two contrary errors do not make a 
truth, although they suggest and determine the 
nature of some relevant truth. This truth is the 
empirical origin, in a determinate type of situa- 
tion, of the contrast of observation and concep- 
tion; the empirical relevancy and the empirical 
worth of this contrast in controlling the character 
of subsequent experiences. To suppose that per- 
ception as it concretely exists, either in the early 
experiences of the animal, the race, or the in- 
dividual, or in its later refined and expanded ex- 
periences, is identical with the sharply analyzed, 
objectively discriminated and internally disinte- 
grated elements of scientific observation, is a per- 
version of experience; a perversion for which, in- 
deed, professed empiricists set the example, but 
which idealism must perpetuate if it is not to find 
its end in an improved, functional empiricism. 1 


We come now to the consideration of the third 
element in our problem; ideality, important and 

1 Plato, especially in his " Theaetetus," seems to have 
begun the procedure of blasting the good name of per- 
ceptive experience by identifying a late and instrumental 
distinction, having to do with logical control, with all ex- 
perience whatsoever. 


normative value, in relation to experience ; the an- 
tithesis of experience as a tentative, fragmentary, 
and ineffectual embodiment of meaning over 
against the perfect, eternal system of meanings 
which experience suggests even in nullifying and 

That from the memory standpoint experience 
presents itself as a multiplicity of episodic events 
with just enough continuity among them to sug- 
gest principles true " on the whole " or usually, 
but without furnishing instruction as to their ex- 
act range and bearing, seems obvious enough- 
Why should it not? The motive which leads to 
reflection on past experience could be satisfied in 
no other way. Continuities, connecting links, dy- 
namic transitions drop out because, for the pur- 
pose of the recollection, they would be hindrances 
if now repeated ; or because they are now available 
only when themselves objectified in definite terms 
and thus given a quasi independent, a quasi atom- 
istic standing of their own. This is the only alter- 
native to what the psychologists term " total rem- 
iniscence," which, so far as total, leave us with 
an elephant on our hands. Unless we are going 
to have a wholesale revivification of the past, giv- 
ing us just another embarrassing present experi- 
ence, illusory because irrelevant, memory must 
work by retail — by summoning distinct cases, 
events, sequences, precedents. Dis-membering is 


a positively necessary part of re-membering. But 
the resulting disjecta membra are in no sense 
experience as it was or is ; they are simply elements 
held apart, and yet tentatively implicated together, 
in present experience for the sake of its most favor- 
able evolution; evolution in the direction of the 
most excellent meaning or value conceived. If the 
remembering is efficacious and pertinent, it reveals 
the possibilities of the present; that is to say, it 
clarifies the transitive, transforming character 
that belongs inherently to the present. The dis- 
membering of the vital present into the discon- 
nected past is correlative to an anticipation, an 
idealization of the future. 

Moreover, the contingent character of the prin- 
ciple or rule that emerges from a survey of cases, 
instances, as distinct from a fixed or necessary 
character, secures just what is wanted in the ex- 
igency of a prospective idealization, or refinement 
of excellence. It is just this character that 
secures flexibility and variety of outlook, that 
makes possible a consideration of alternatives and 
an attempt to select and to execute the more 
worthy among them. The fixed or necessary law 
would mean a future like the past — a dead, an 
unidealized future. It is exasperating to imagine 
how completely different would have been Aris- 
totle's valuation of " experience " with respect to 
its contingency, if he had but once employed the 


function of developing and perfecting value, in- 
stead of the function of knowing an unalterable 
object, as the standard by which to estimate and 
measure intelligence. 

The one constant trait of experience from its 
crudest to its most mature forms is that its con- 
tents undergo change of meaning, and of meaning 
in the sense of excellence, value. Every experi- 
ence is in-course, 1 in course of becoming worse or 
better as to its contents, or in course of conscious 
endeavor to sustain some satisfactory level of 
value against encroachment or lapse. In this ef- 
fort, both precedent, the reduction of the present 
idealization, the anticipation of the possible, 
though doubtful, future, emerge. Without ideal- 
ization, that is, without conception of the favor- 
able issue that the present, defined in terms of 
precedents, may portend in its transition, the 
recollection of precedents, and the formulation of 
tentative rules is nonsense. But without the identi- 
fication of the present in terms of elements sug- 
gested by the past, without recognition, the ideal, 

1 Compare James, " Continuous transition is one sort of 
conjunctive relation; and to be a radical empiricist means to 
hold fast to this conjunctive relation of all others, for this 
is the strategic point, the position through which, if a hole 
be made, all the corruptions of dialectics and all the meta- 
physical fictions pour into our philosophy." — Journal of 
Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, Vol. I., p. 


the value projected as end, remains inert, helpless, 
sentimental, without means of realization. Re- 
sembling cases and anticipation, memory and ideal- 
ization, are the corresponding terms in which a ) 
present experience has its transitive force analyzed 
into reciprocally pertinent means and ends. 

That an experience will change in content and 
value is the one thing certain. How it will change 
is the one thing naturally uncertain. Hence the 
import of the art of reflection and invention. Con- 
trol of the character of the change in the direction 
of the worthful is the common business of theory 
and practice. Here is the province of the episodic 
recollection of past history and of the idealized 
foresight of possibilities. The irrelevancy of an 
objective idealism lies in the fact that it totally 
ignores the position and function of ideality in 
sustained and serious endeavor. Were values auto- 
matically injected and kept in the world of ex- 
perience by any force not reflected in human mem- 
ories and projects, it would make no difference 
whether this force were a Spencerian environment 
or an Absolute Reason. Did purpose ride in a 
cosmic automobile toward a predestined goal, it 
would not cease to be physical and mechanical in 
quality because labeled Divine Idea, or Perfect 
Reason. The moral would be " let us eat, drink, 
and be merry," for to-morrow — or if not this to- 
morrow, then upon some to-morrow, unaffected by 


our empirical memories, reflections, inventions, 
and idealizations — the cosmic automobile arrives. 
Spirituality, ideality, meaning as purpose, would 
t. be the last things to present themselves if objective 
idealism were true. Values cannot be both ideal 
and given, and their " given " character is em- 
phasized, not transformed, when they are called 
eternal and absolute. But natural values become 
ideal the moment their maintenance is dependent 
upon the intentional activities of an empirical 
agent. To suppose that values are ideal because 
they are so eternally given is the contradiction in 
which objective idealism has intrenched itself. Ob- 
jective ontological teleology spells machinery. Re- 
flective and volitional, experimental teleology alone 
spells ideality. 1 Objective, rationalistic idealism 
breaks upon the fact that it can have no intermedi- 
ary between a brutally achieved embodiment of 
meaning (physical in character or else of that pecu- 
liar quasi^physical character which goes generally 
by the name of metaphysical) and a total opposition 
of the given and the ideal, connoting their mutual 
indifference and incapacity. An empiricism that 
acknowledges the transitive character of experi- 
ence, and that acknowledges the possible control 

1 One of the not least of the many merits of Santayana's 
"Life of Reason" is the consistency and vigor with which 
is upheld the doctrine that significant idealism means ideal- 


of the character of the transition by means of 
intelligent effort, has abundant opportunity to 
celebrate in productive art, genial morals, and 
impartial inquiry the grace and the severity of 
the ideal. 


THE criticisms made upon that vital but still 
unformed movement variously termed radical 
empiricism, pragmatism, humanism, functionalism, 
according as one or another aspect of it is upper- 
most, have left me with a conviction that the 
fundamental difference is not so much in matters 
overtly discussed as in a presupposition that re- 
mains tacit : a presupposition as to what experience 
is and means. To do my little part in clearing 
up the confusion, I shall try to make my own 
presupposition explicit. The object of this paper 
is, then, to set forth what I understand to be the 
postulate and the criterion of immediate empiri- 

1 Reprinted, with very slight change, from the Journal of 
Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, Vol. II., No. 
15, July, 1905. 

2 All labels are, of course, obnoxious and misleading. I 
hope, however, the term will be taken by the reader in the 
sense in which it is forthwith explained, and not in some 
more usual and familiar sense. Empiricism, as herein used, 
is as antipodal to sensationalistic empiricism, as it is to 
transcendentalism, and for the same reason. Both of these 
systems fall back on something which is denned in non- 


Immediate empiricism postulates that things — 
anything, everything, in the ordinary or non- 
technical use of the term " thing " — are what they 
are experienced as. Hence, if one wishes to de- 
scribe anything truly, his task is to tell what it is 
experienced as being. If it is a horse that is to 
be described, or the equus that is to be defined, 
then must the horse-trader, or the jockey, or the 
timid family man who wants a " safe driver," or 
the zoologist or the paleontologist tell us what the 
horse is which is experienced. If these accounts 
turn out different in some respects, as well as con- 
gruous in others, this is no reason for assuming 
the content of one to be exclusively "real," and 
that of others to be " phenomenal " ; for each ac- 
count of what is experienced will manifest that it is 
the account of the horse-dealer, or of the zoologist, 
and hence will give the conditions requisite 
for understanding the differences as well as the 
agreements of the various accounts. And the 
principle varies not a whit if we bring in the psy- 
chologist's horse, the logician's horse, or the meta- 
physician's horse. 

directly-experienced terms in order to justify that which is 
directly experienced. Hence I have criticised such empiri- 
cism (Philosophical Review, Vol. XI., No. 4, p. 364) as es- 
sentially absolutistic in character; and also (" Studies in 
Logical Theory," pp. 30, 58) as an attempt to build up ex- 
perience in terms of certain methodological checks and cues 
of attaining certainty. 


In each case, the nub of the question is, what 
sort of experience is denoted or indicated: a con- 
crete and determinate experience, varying, when it 
varies, in specific real elements, and agreeing, when 
it agrees, in specific real elements, so that we have 
a contrast, not between a Reality, and various 
approximations to, or phenomenal representations 
of Reality, but between different reals of experi- 
ence. And the reader is begged to bear in mind 
that from this standpoint, when " an experience " 
or w some sort of experience " is referred to, " some 
thing " or " some sort of thing " is always 

Now, this statement that things are what they 
are experienced to be is usually translated into 
the statement that things (or, ultimately, Reality, 
i Being) are only and just what they are known to 
be or that things are, or Reality is, what it is for 
a conscious knower-^whether the knower be con- 
ceived primarily as a perceiver or as a thinker be- 
ing a further, and secondary, question. This is 
the root-paralogism of all idealisms, whether sub- 
jective or objective, psychological or epistemolog- 
ical. By our postulate, things are what they are 
experienced to be ; and, unless knowing is the sole 
and only genuine mode of experiencing, it is falla- 
cious to say that Reality is just and exclusively 
what it is or would be to an all-competent all- 
knower; or even that it is, relatively and piece- 





meal, what it is to a finite and partial knower. Oiyj J 
„ put more positively, knowing is one mode of ex- 
periencing, and the primary philosophic demand 
(from the standpoint of immediatism) is to find out J 
what sort of an experience knowing is — or, con- 
cretely how things are experienced when they are* 
experienced as known things^ By concretely isj 
\ meant, obviously enough (among other things),! 
1 such an account of the experience of things as 
known that will bring out the characteristic traits 
and distinctions they possess as things of a know- 
ing experience, as compared with'things'experi- 
enced esthetically, or morally, or economically, or 
technologically. To assume that, because from 
the standpoint of the knowledge experience things 
are what they are known to be, therefore, meta- 
physically, absolutely, without qualification, every- 
thing in its reality (as distinct from its " appear- 
ance," or phenomenal occurrence) is what a knower' 
would find it to be, is, from the immediatist's stand- 
point, if not the root of all philosophic evil, at 
least one of its main roots. For this leaves out I 

*I hope the reader will not therefore assume that from 
the empiricist's standpoint knowledge is of small worth 
or import. On the contrary, from the empiricist's stand- 
point it has all the worth which it is concretely experienced 
as possessing — which is simply tremendous. But the exact 
nature of this worth is a thing to be found out in describing 
what we mean by experiencing objects as known — the actual 
differences made or found in experience. 


| of account what the knowledge standpoint is itself 

T experienced as. 

/ w I jtart a nd am flustered by a noise heard. Em- 
pirically, that noise is fearsome; it really is, not 
merely phenomenally or subjectively so. That is 
what it is experienced as being. But, when I ex- 

* perience the noise as a known thing, I find it to 
be innocent of harm. It is the tapping^of a shade 
against the window, owing to movements of the 
wind. The experience has changed; that is, the 
thing experienced has changed — not that an un- 
reality has given place to a reality, nor that 
some transcendental (unexperienced) Reality has 
changed, 1 not that truth has changed, but just 

• and only the concrete reality experienced has 
changed. I now feel ashamed of my fright; and 

. the noise as fearsome is changed to noise as a wind- 
curtain fact, and hence practically indifferent to 
my welfare. This is a change of experienced ex- 

' istence effected through the medium of cognition. 

1 Since the non-empiricist believes in things-in-themselves 
(which he may term "atoms," "sensations," transcendental 
unities, a priori concepts, an absolute experience, or what- 
ever), and since he finds that the empiricist makes much of 
change (as he must, since change is continuously experi- 
enced) he assumes that the empiricist means his own non- 
empirical Realities are in continual flux, and he naturally 
shudders at having his divinities so violently treated. But, 
once recognize that the empiricist doesn't have any such 
Realities at all, and the entire problem of the relation of 
change to reality takes a very different aspect. 


The content of the latter experience cognitively re- 
garded is doubtless truer than the content of the 
earlier : but it is in no sense more real. To call it 
truer, moreover, must, from the empirical stand- 
point, mean a concrete difference in actual things 
experienced. 1 Again, in many cases, only in retro- 
spect is the prior experience cognitionally regarded 
at all. In such cases, it is only in regard to con- 
trasted content m a subsequent experience that 
the determination " truer " has force. 

Perhaps some reader may now object that as 
matter of fact the entire experience is cognitive, 
but that the earlier parts of it are only imperfectly 
so, resulting in a phenomenon that is not real; 
while the latter part, being a more complete cog- 
nition, results in what is relatively, at least, more 
real. 2 In short, a critic may say that, when I was 

1 It would lead us aside from the point to try to tell 
just what is the nature of the experienced difference we call 
truth. Professor James's recen^ articles may well be con- 
sulted. The point to bear in mind here is just what sort 
of a thing the empiricist must mean by true, or truer (the 
noun Truth is, of course, a generic name for all cases of 
"Trues"). The adequacy of any particular account is not 
a matter to be settled by general reasoning, but by finding 
out what sort of an experience the truth-experience actually 

2 1 say " relatively," because the transcendentalist still 
holds that finally the cognition is imperfect, giving us only 
some symbol or phenomenon of Reality (which is only in 
the Absolute or in some Thing-in-Itself) — otherwise the 


frightened by the noise, I knew I was frightened; 
otherwise there would have been no experience at 
all. At this point, it is necessary to make a dis- 
tinction so simple and yet so all-fundamental that 
I am afraid the reader will be inclined to pooh- 
pooh it away as a mere verbal distinction. But 
to see that to the empiricist this distinction is not 
verbal, but genuine, is the precondition of any un- 
derstanding of him. The immediatist must, by his 
postulate, ask what is the fright experienced as. 
Is what is actually experienced, I-know-I-am- 
frightened, or I-am-frightened? I see absolutely 
no reason for claiming that the experience must 
be described by the former phrase. In all proba- 
bility (and all the empiricist logically needs is just 
one case of this sort) the experience is simply and 
just of fright-at-the-noise. Later one may (or 
may not) have an experience describable as I- 
know-I-am- (or-was) and improperly or properly, 
frightened. But this is a different experience — ' 
that is, a different thing. And if the critic goes 
on to urge that the person " really " must have 
known that he was frightened, I can only point 
out that the critic is shifting the venue. He may 
be right, but, if so, it is only because the " really " 

curtain-wind fact would have as much ontological reality as 
the existence of the Absolute itself: a conclusion at which 
the non-empiricist perhorresces, for no reason obvious to 
me — save that it would put an end to his transcendentalism. 


is something not concretely experienced (whose na- 
ture accordingly is the critic's business) ; and this 
is to depart from the empiricist's point of view, 
to attribute to him a postulate he expressly 

The material point may come out more clearly 
if I say that we must make a distinction between 
a thing as cognitive, and one as cognized. 1 I 
should define a cognitive experience as one that 
has certain bearings or implications which induce, 
and fulfil themselves in, a subsequent experience 
in which the relevant thing is experienced as cog- 
nized, as a known object, and is thereby trans- 
formed, or reorganized. The fright-at-the-noise 
in the case cited is obviously cognitive, in this sense. 
By description, it induces an investigation or in- 
quiry in which both noise and fright are objectively 
stated or presented — the noise as a shade-wind 
fact, the fright as an organic reaction to a sudden 
acoustic stimulus, a reaction that under the given 
circumstances was useless or even detrimental, a 
maladaptation. Now, pretty much all of experi- 
ence is of this sort (the " is " meaning, of course, 
is experienced as), and the empiricist is false to his 
principle if he does not duly note this fact. 2 But 

1 In general, I think the distinction between -4ve and -ed 
one of the most fundamental of philosophic distinctions, and 
one of the most neglected. The same holds of -Hon and -ing. 

* What is criticised, now as " geneticism " (if I may coin 


he is equally false to his principle if he permits 
himself to be confused as to the concrete differences 
in the two things experienced. 

There are two little words through explication 
of which the empiricist's position may be brought 
out — " as " and " that." We may express his 
presupposition by saying that things are what they 
are experienced as being; or that to give a just 
account of anything is to tell what that thing is 
experienced to be. By these words I want to in- 
dicate the absolute, final, irreducible, and inex- 
pugnable concrete quale which everything experi- 
enced not so much has as is. To grasp this aspect 
of empiricism is to see what the empiricist means 
by objectivity, by the element of control. Sup- 
pose we take, as a crucial case for the empiricist, 
an out and out illusion, say of Zollner's lines. 
These are experienced as convergent; they are 
■ " truly " parallel. If things are what they are 
experienced as being, how can the distinction be 
drawn between illusion and the true state of the 
case? There is no answer to this question except 
by sticking to the fact that the experience of the 
lines as divergent is a concrete qualitative thing or 
that. It is that experience which it is, and no 

the word) and now as "pragmatism" is, in its truth, just 
the fact that the empiricist does take account of the ex- 
perienced " drift, occasion, and contexture " of things experi- 
enced — to use Hobbes's phrase. 


other. And if the reader rebels at the iteration of 
such obvious tautology, I can only reiterate that 
the realization of the meaning of this tautology is 
the key to the whole question of the objectivity of 

(experience, as that stands to the empiricist. The 
lines of that experience are divergent ; not merely 
seem so. The question of truth is not as to 
whether Being or Non-Being, Reality or mere 

- Appearance, is experienced, but as to the worth of 
a certain concretely experienced thing. The only 
way of passing upon this question is by sticking 
in the most uncompromising fashion to that ex- 
perience as real. That experience is that two 
lines with certain cross-hatchings are apprehended 
as convergent; only by taking that experience as 
real and as fully real, is there any basis for, or 
way of going to, an experienced knowledge that 
the lines are parallel. It is in the concrete thing 
as experienced that all the grounds and clues to 

s its own intellectual or logical rectification are con- 
tained. It is because this thing, afterwards ad- 
judged false, is a concrete that, that it develops 
into a corrected experience (that is, experience of 
a corrected thing — we reform things just as we 
reform ourselves or a bad boy) whose full content 
is not a whit more real, but which is true or truer. 1 

Perhaps the point would be clearer if expressed in this 
way: Except as subsequent estimates of worth are intro- 
duced, " real " means only existent. The eulogistic connota- 


If any experience, then a determinate experi- 
ence; and this determinateness is the only, and is 
the adequate, principle of control, or " objectiv- 
ity." The experience may be of the vaguest sort. 
I may not see anything which I can identify as a 
familiar object — a table, a chair, etc. It may be 
dark ; I may have only the vaguest impression that 
there is something which looks like a table. Or I 
may be completely befogged and confused, as when 
one rises quickly from sleep in a pitch-dark room. 
But this vagueness, this doubtfulness, this confu- 
sion is the thing experienced, and, qua real, is as 
" good " a reality as the self-luminous vision of 
an Absolute. It is not just vagueness, doubtful- 
ness, confusion, at large or in general. It is this 
vagueness, and no other ; absolutely unique, abso- 
lutely what it is. 1 Whatever gain in clearness, in 
fullness, in trueness of content is experienced must 
grow out of some element in the experience of this 
experienced as what it is. To return to the illu- 
sion: If the experience of the lines as convergent 
is illusory, it is because of some elements in the 

tion that makes the term Reality equivalent to true or 
genuine being has great pragmatic significance, but its con- 
. fusion with reality as existence is the point aimed at in the 
above paragraph. 

x One does not so easily escape medieval Realism as one 
thinks. Either every experienced thing has its own deter- 
minateness, its own unsubstitutable, unredeemable reality, or 
else "generals" are separate existences after all. 


thing as experienced, not because of something de- 
fined in terms of externality to this particular ex- 
perience. If the illusoriness can be detected, it is 
- because the thing experienced is real, having within 
its experienced reality elements whose own mutual 
tension effects its reconstruction. Taken con- 
cretely, the experience of convergent lines con- 
tains within itself the elements of the transforma- 
tion of its own content. It is this thing, and not 
some separate truth, that clamors for its own 
reform. There is, then, from the empiricist's point 
of view, no need to search for some aboriginal that 
to which all successive experiences are attached, 
and which is somehow thereby undergoing continu- 
ous change. Experience is always of thats; and 
the most comprehensive and inclusive experience 
of the universe that the philosopher himself can 
obtain is the experience of a characteristic that. 
From the empiricist's point of view, this is as true 
of the exhaustive and complete insight of a hypo- 
thetical all-knower as of the vague, blind experi- 
j ence of the awakened sleeper. As reals, they stand 
I on the same level. As trues, the latter has by 
\ definition the better of it ; but if this insight is in 
any way the truth of the blind awakening, it is 
because the latter has, in its own determinate quale, 
elements of real continuity with the former; it is, 
ex hypothesis transformable through a series of 
experienced reals without break of continuity, into 


the absolute thought-experience. There is no need 
of logical manipulation to effect the transforma- 
tion, nor could any logical consideration effect it. 
If effected at all it is just by immediate experiences, 
each of which is just as real (no more, no less) 
as either of the two terms between which they lie. 
Such, at least, is the meaning of the empiricist's 
contention. So, when he talks of experience, he 
does not mean some grandiose, remote affair that 
is cast like a net around a succession of fleeting 
experiences; he does not mean an indefinite total, 
comprehensive experience which somehow engirdles 
an endless flux; he means that things are what 
they are experienced to be, and that every experi- 
ence is some thing. 

From the postulate of empiricism, then (or, what 
is the same thing, from a general consideration of 
the concept of experience), nothing can be deduced, 
not a single philosophical proposition. 1 The reader 

1 Excepting, of course, some negative ones. One could 
say that certain views are certainly not true, because, by 
hypothesis, they refer to nonentities, i.e., non-empiricals. 
But even here the empiricist must go slowly. From his 
own standpoint, even the most professedly transcendental 
statements are, after all, real as experiences, and hence 
negotiate some transaction with facts. For this reason, he 
cannot, in theory, reject them in toto, but has to show con- 
cretely how they arose and how they are to be corrected. 
In a word, his logical relationship to statements that pro- 
fess to relate to things-in-themselves, unknowables, inexperi- 
enced substances, etc., is precisely that of the psychologist 
to the Zollner lines. 



may hence conclude that all this just comes to the 
truism that experience is experience, or is what it is. 

ef one attempts to draw conclusions from the bare 
oncept of experience, the reader is quite right. 
But the real significance of the principle is that of 
a method of philosophical analysis — a method iden- 
tical in kind (but differing in problem and hence 
in operation) with that of the scientist. If you 
wish to find out what subjective, objective, phys- 
ical, mental, cosmic, psychic, cause, substance, pur- 
pose, activity, evil, being, quality — any philo- 
sophic term, in short — means, go to experience and 
see what the thing is experienced as. 

Such a method is not spectacular; it permits of 
no offhand demonstrations of God, freedom, im- 
mortality, nor of the exclusive reality of matter, 
or ideas, or consciousness, etc. But it supplies a 
way of telling what all these terms mean. It may 
seem insignificant, or chillingly disappointing, but 
only upon condition that it be not worked. Philo- 
sophic conceptions have, I believe, outlived their 
usefulness considered as stimulants to emotion, or 
as a species of sanctions ; and a larger, more fruit- 
ful and more valuable career awaits them consid- 
ered as specifically experienced meanings. 

[Note: The reception of this essay proved that I was un- 
reasonably sanguine in thinking that the foot-note of warn- 
ing, appended to the title, would forfend radical mis- 

apprehension. I see now that it was unreasonable to expecti 

that the word " immediate " in a philosophic writing could 


^be generally understood to apply to anything except knowl- 
edge, even though the body of the essay is a protest 

{ against such limitation. But I venture to repeat that the 
essay is not a denial of the necessity of " mediation," or re- 
flection, in knowledge, but is an assertion that the inferential 
factor must exist, or must occur, and that all existence is 
direct and vital, so that philosophy can pass upon its nature 
— as upon the nature of all of the rest of its subject-matter 
;— only by first ascertaining what it exists or occurs as. 

I venture to repeat also another statement of the text: 
I do not mean by "immediate experience" any aboriginal 
stuff out of which things are evolved, but I use the term 
to indicate the necessity of employing in philosophy the 
direct descriptive method that has now made its way in 
all the natural sciences, with such modifications, of course, 
as the subject itself entails. 

*■/" There is nothing in the text to imply that things exist in 
experience atomically or in isolation. When it is said that a 
thing as cognized is different from an earlier non-cognition- 
ally experienced thing, the saying no more implies lack of 
ntinuity between the things, than the obvious remark 
at a seed is different from a flower or a leaf denies their 
continuity. The amount and kind of continuity or dis- 
creteness that exists is to be discovered by recurring to 
what actually occurs in experience. 

Finally, there is nothing in the text that denies the 
existence of things temporally prior to human experiencing 
of them. Indeed, I should think it fairly obvious that we 
experience most things as temporally prior to our ex- 
periencing of them. The import of the article is to the 
effect that we are not entitled to draw philosophic (as dis- 
tinct from scientific) conclusions as to the meaning of prior 
temporal existence till we have ascertained what it is to 
experience a thing as past. These four disclaimers cover, 
I think, all the misapprehensions disclosed in the four or 
five controversial articles (noted below) that the original 
essay evoked. One of these articles (that of Professor 


Woodbridge), raised a point of fact, holding that cogni- 
tional experience tells us, without alteration, just what the 
things of other types of experience are, and in that sense 
transcends other experiences. This is too fundamental an 
issue to discuss in a note, and I content myself with re- 
marking that with respect to it, the bearing of the article 
is that the issue must be settled by a careful descriptive 
survey of things as experienced, to see whether modifica- 
tions do not occur in existences when they are experienced as 
known; i.e., as true or false in character. The reader 
interested in following up this discussion is referred to 
the following articles: Vol. II. of the Journal of Philosophy, 
Psychology, and Scientific Methods, two articles by Bake- 
well, p. 520 and p. 687; one by Bode, p. 658; one by Wood- 
bridge, p. 573; VoL III. of the same Journal, by Leighton, 
p. 174.] 


TT^ VERY science in its final standpoint and work- 
-*—* ing aims is controlled by conditions lying out- 
side itself — conditions that subsist in the practi-, 
cal life of the time. With no science is this as 
obviously true as with psychology. Taken with- 
out nicety of analysis, no one would deny that psy- 
chology is specially occupied with the individual; 
that it wishes to find out those things that proceed 
peculiarly from the individual, and the mode of 
their connection with him. Now, the way in which 
the individual is conceived, the value that is attrib- 
uted to him, the things in his make-up that arouse 
interest, are not due at the outset to psychology. 
The scientific view regards these matters in a re- 
flected, a borrowed, medium. They are revealed 
in the light of social life. An autocratic, an 
aristocratic, a democratic society propound such 
different estimates of the worth and place of 
individuality; they procure for the individual as 
an individual such different sorts of experience; 

1 Delivered as a public address before the Philosophic 
Union of the University of California, with the title 
" Psychology and Philosophic Method," May, 1899, and pub- 
lished in the University Chronicle for August, 1899. Re- 
printed, with slight verbal changes, mostly excisions, 




they aim at arousing such different impulses and at 
organizing them according to such different pur- 
poses, that the psychology arising in each must 
show a different temper. 

In this sense, psych ology is a political science. 
While the professed psychologist, in his conscious 
procedure, may easily cut his subject-matter loose 
from these practical ties and references, yet the 
starting point and goal of his course are none the 
less socially set. In this conviction I venture to 
introduce to an audience that could hardly be 
expected to be interested in the technique of psy- 
chology, a technical subject, hoping that the 
human meaning may yet appear. 

There is at present a strong, apparently a grow- 
ing tendency to conceive of psychology as an ac- 
count of the consciousness of the individual, con- 
sidered as something in and by itself; conscious- 
ness, the assumption virtually runs, being of such 
an order that it may be analyzed, described, and 
explained in terms of just itself. The statement, 
as commonly made, is that psychology is an ac- 
count of consciousness, qua consciousness ; and the 
phrase is supposed to limit psychology to a certain 
definite sphere of fact that may receive adequate 
discussion for scientific purposes, without troubling 
itself with what lies outside. Now if this concep- 
tion be true, there is no intimate, no important 
connection of psychology and philosophy at large. 


That philosophy, whose range is comprehensive, 
whose problems are catholic, should be held down 
by a discipline whose voice is as partial as its 
material is limited, is out of the range of intelli- 
gent discussion. 

But there is another possibility. If the indi- 
vidual of whom psychology treats be, after all, a 
social individual, any absolute setting off and 
apart of a sphere of consciousness as, even for sci- 
entific purposes, self-sufficient, is condemned in ad- 
vance. All such limitation, and all inquiries, 
descriptions, explanations that go with it, are only 
preliminary. " Consciousness " is but a symbol, 
an anatomy whose life is in natural and social 
operations. To know the symbol, the psychical 
letter, is important ; but its necessity lies not within 
itself, but in the need of a language for reading 
the things signified. If this view be correct, we 
cannot be so sure that psychology is without large 
philosophic significance. Whatever meaning the 
individual has for the social life that he both in- 
corporates and animates, that meaning has psy- 
chology for philosophy. 

This problem is too important and too large to 
suffer attack in an evening's address. Yet I ven- 
ture to consider a portion of it, hoping that such 
things as appear will be useful clues in enter- 
ing wider territory. We may ask what is the effect 
upon psychology of considering its material as 


something so distinct as to be capable of treatment 
without involving larger issues. In this inquiry 
we take as representative some such account of the 
science as this: Psychology deals with conscious- 
ness " as such " in its various modes and processes. 
It aims at an isolation of each such as will permit 
accurate description: at statement of its place in 
the serial order such as will enable us to state the 
laws by which one calls another into being, or as 
will give the natural history of its origin, matur- 
ing, and dissolution. It is both analytic and syn- 
thetic — analytic in that it resolves each state into 
its constituent elements; synthetic in that it dis- 
covers the processes by which these elements com- 
bine into complex wholes and series. It leaves 
alone — it shuts out — questions concerning the 
validity, the objective import of these modifica- 
tions : of their value in conveying truth, in effect- 
ing goodness, in constituting beauty. For it is 
just with such questions of worth, of validity, that 
philosophy has to do. 

Some such view as this is held by the great 
majority of working psychologists to-day. A va- 
riety of reasons have conspired to bring about 
general acceptance. Such a view seems to enroll 
one in the ranks of the scientific men rather than 
of the metaphysicians — and there are those who 
distrust the metaphysicians. Others desire to take 
problems piecemeal and in detail, avoiding that ex- 


cursion into ultimates, into that never-ending pan- 
orama of new questions and new possibilities that 
seems to be the fate of the philosopher. While no 
temperate mind can do other than sympathize with 
this view, it is hardly more than an expedient. 
For, as Mr. James remarks, after disposing of the 
question of free-will by relegating it to the domain 
of the metaphysician : — " Metaphysics means only 
an unusually obstinate attempt to think clearly and s 
consistently " — and clearness and consistency are 
not things to be put off beyond a certain point. 
When the metaphysician chimes in with this new- 
found modesty of the psychologist, so different 
from the disposition of Locke and Hume and the 
Mills, salving his metaphysical conscience with the 
remark — it hardly possesses the dignity of a con- 
viction — that the partial sciences, j ust because they 
are partial, are not expected to be coherent with 
themselves nor with one another; when the meta- 
physician, I say, praises the psychologist for stick- 
ing to his last, we are reminded that another mo- 
tive is also at work. There is a half-conscious 
irony in this abnegation of psychology. It is not 
the first time that science has assumed the work 
of Cinderella; and, since Mr. Huxley has happily 
reminded her, she is not altogether oblivious, in her 
modesty, of a possible future check to the pride 
of her haughty sister, and of a certain coronation 
that shall mark her coming to her own. 


But, be the reasons as they may, there is little 
doubt of the fact. Almost all our working psy- 
chologists admit, nay, herald this limitation of 
their work. I am not presumptuous enough to 
set myself against this array. I too proclaim 
myself of those who believe that psychology has to 
do (at a certain point, that is) with " conscious- 
ness as such." But I do not believe that the limi- 
tation is final. Quite the contrary : if " conscious- 
ness " or " state of consciousness " be given in- 
telligible meaning, I believe that this conception is 
the open gateway into the fair fields of philosophy. 
For, note you, the phrase is an ambiguous one. It 
may mean one thing to the metaphysician who 
proclaims: Here finally we have psychology rec- 
ognizing her due metes and bounds, giving bonds 
to trespass no more. It may mean quite another 
thing to the psychologist in his work — whatever 
he may happen to say about it. It may be that 
the psychologist deals with states of consciousness 
as the significant, the analyzable and describable 
form, to which he reduces the things he is study- 
ing. Not that they are that existence, but that 
they are its indications, its clues, in shape for 
handling by scientific methods. So, for example, 
does the paleontologist work. Those curiously 
shaped and marked forms to which he is devoted 
are not life, nor are they the literal termini of his 
endeavor; but through them as signs and records 


he construes a life. And again, the painter-artist 
might well say that he is concerned only with 
colored paints as such. Yet none the less through 
them as registers and indices, he reveals to us 
the mysteries of sunny meadow, shady forest, and 
twilight wave. These are the things-in-themselves 
of which the oils on his palette are phenomena. 

So the preoccupation of the psychologist with 
states of consciousness may signify that they are 
the media, the concrete conditions to which he 
purposely reduces his material, in order, through 
them, as methodological helps, to get at and under- 
stand that which is anything but a state of con- 
sciousness. To him, however, who insists upon the 
fixed and final limitation of psychology, the state 
of consciousness is not the shape some fact takes 
from the exigency of investigation; it is literally 
the full fact itself. It is not an intervening term ; 
it bounds the horizon. Here, then, the issue de- 
fines itself. I conceive that states of conscious- 
ness (and I hope you will take the phrase broadly 
enough to cover all the specific data of psy-> 
chology) have no existence before the psychologist 
begins to work. He brings them into existence. 
What we are really after is the process of ex- 
perience, the way in which it arises and behaves. 
We want to know its course, its history, its laws. 
We want to know its various typical forms; how 
each originates; how it is related to others; the 


part it plays in maintaining an inclusive, expand- 
ing, connected course of experience. Our problem 
as psychologists is to learn its modus operandi, its 

The paleontologist is again summoned to our 
aid. In a given district he finds a great number 
and variety of footprints. From these he goes to 
work to construct the structure and the life habits 
of the animals that made them. The tracks exist 
undoubtedly ; they are there ; but yet he deals with , 
them not as final existences but as signs, phe- 
nomena in the literal sense. Imagine the hearing 
that the critic would receive who should inform the 
paleontologist that he is transcending his field of 
scientific activity; that his concern is with foot- 
prints as such, aiming to describe each, to analyze 
it into its simplest forms, to compare the different 
kinds with one another so as to detect common ele- 
ments, and finally, thereby, to discover the laws 
of their arrangement in space ! 

Yet the immediate data are footprints, and foot- 
prints only. The paleontologist does in a way do 
all these things that our imaginary critic is urging 
upon him. The difference is not that he arbitrarily 
lugs in other data; that he invents entities and 
faculties that are not there. The difference is 
in his standpoint. His interest is in the animals, 
and the data are treated in whatever way seems 
likely to serve this interest. So with the psycholo- 


gist. He is continually and perforce occupied 
with minute and empirical investigation of special 
facts — states of consciousness, if you please. But 
these neither define nor exhaust his scientific prob- 
lem. They are his footprints, his clues through 
which he places before himself .thejifeipjocess he is 
studying — with the further difference that his foot- 
prints are not after all given to him, but are de- 
veloped by his investigation. 1 

The supposition that these states are somehow 
existent by themselves and in this existence provide 
the psychologist with ready-made material is just| 
the supreme case of the " psychological fallacy " : 
the confusion of experience as it is to the one ex- 
periencing with what the psychologist makes out 
of it with his reflective analysis. 

The psychologist begins with certain operations, 
acts, functions as his data. If these fall out of 

1 This is a fact not without its bearings upon the question 
of the nature and value of introspection. The objection that 
introspection " alters " the reality and hence is untrust- 
worthy, most writers dispose of by saying that, after all, it 
need not alter the reality so very much — not beyond repair — 
and that, moreover, memory assists in restoring the ruins. 
It would be simpler to admit the fact: that the purpose 
> of introspection is precisely to effect the right sort of altera- 
tion. If introspection should give us the original experi- 
ence again, we should just be living through the experience 
over again in direct fashion; as psychologists we should not 
be forwarded one bit. Reflection upon this obvious proposi- 
tion may bring to light various other matters worthy of note. 


sight in the course of discussion, it is only because 
having been taken for granted, they remain to 
control the whole development of the inquiry, and 
to afford the sterling medium of redemption. Acts 
such as perceiving, remembering, intending, lov- 
ing give the points of departure; they alone are 
concrete experiences. To understand these ex- 
periences, under what conditions they arise, and 
what effects they produce, analysis into states of 
consciousness occurs. And the modes of conscious- 
ness that are figured remain unarranged and un- 
important, save as they may be translated back 
into acts. 

To remember is to do something, as much as 
to shoe a horse, or to cherish a keepsake. To pro- 
pose, to observe, to be kindly affectioned, are terms 
of value, of practice, of operation; just as diges- 
tion, respiration, locomotion express functions, not 
observable * objects." But there is an object 
that may be described: lungs, stomach, leg-mus- 
cles, or whatever. Through the structure we pre- 
sent to ourselves the function ; it appears laid out 
before us, spread forth in detail — objectified in a 
word. The anatomist who devotes himself to this 
detail may, if he please (and he probably does 
please to concentrate his devotion) ignore the 
function: to discover what is there, to analyze, to 
measure, to describe, gives him outlet enough. 
But nevertheless it is the function that fixed the 


point of departure, that prescribed the problem 
and that set the limits, physical as well as intel- 
lectual, of subsequent investigation. Reference to 
function makes the details discovered other than a 
jumble of incoherent trivialities. One might as 
well devote himself to the minute description of a 
square yard of desert soil were it not for this trans- 
lation. States of consciousness are the morphol- 
ogy of certain functions. 1 What is true of anal- 
ysis, of description, is true equally of classifica- 
tion. Knowing, willing, feeling, name states of 
consciousness not in terms of themselves, but in 
terms of acts, attitudes, found in experience. 2 

1 Thus to divorce " structure psychology " from " function 

psychology" is to leave us without possibility of scientific 

■7 comprehension of function, while it deprives us of all 

standard of reference in selecting, observing, and explaining 

the structure. 

'The following answer may fairly be anticipated: "This 
is true of the operations cited, but only because complex 
processes have been selected. Such a term as 'knowing* 
does of course express a function involving a system of 
intricate references. But, for that very reason, we go back 
to the sensation which is the genuine type of the 'state 
of consciousness ' as such, pure and unadulterate and un- 
sophisticated." The point is large for a footnote, but the 
following considerations are instructive: (1) The same 
psychologist will go on to inform us that sensations, as 
we experience them, are networks of reference — they are 
perceptual, and more or less conceptual even. From which 
it would appear that whatever else they are or are not, 
the sensations, for which self-inclosed existence is claimed, 
are not states of consciousness. And (2) we are told that 


Explanation, even of an u empirical sort " is as 
impossible as determination of a " state " and its 
classification, when we rigidly confine ourselves to » 
modifications of consciousness as a self-existent. 
Sensations are always defined, classified, and ex- 
plained by reference to conditions which, according 
to the theory, are extraneous — sense-organs and 
stimuli. The whole physiological side assume* a 
ludicrously anomalous aspect on this basis. 1 < 
While experimentation is retained, and even made 
much of, it is at the cost of logical coherence. To 
experiment with reference to a bare state of con- 
sciousness is a performance of which one cannot 
imagine the nature, to say nothing of doing it; 
while to experiment with reference to acts and the 
conditions of their occurrence is a natural and 
straightforward undertaking. Such simple proc- 
esses as association are concretely inexplicable when 

these are reached by scientific abstraction in order to ac- 
count for complex forms. From which it would appear 
that they are hypothecated as products of interpretation 
and for purposes of further interpretation. Only the delu- 
sion that the more complex forms are just aggregates (in- 
stead of being acts, like seeing, hoping, etc.) prevents 
recognition of the point in question — that the "state of 
consciousness" is an instrument of inquiry or method- 
ological appliance. 

1 On the other hand, if what we are trying to get at is 
just the course and procedure of experiencing, of course 
any consideration that helps distinguish and make com- 
prehensible that process is thoroughly pertinent. 


we assume states of consciousness as existences by 
themselves. As recent psychology testifies, we 
again have to resort to conditions that have no 
place nor calling on the basis of the theory — the 
principle of habit, of neural action, or else some 
connection in the object. 1 

We have only to note that there are two oppos- 
ing schools in psychology to see in what an un- 
scientific status is the subject. We have only to 
consider that these two schools are the result of 
assuming states of consciousness as existences per 
se to locate the source of the scientific scandal. 
No matter what the topic, whether memory or 
association or attention or effort, the same dual- 
isms present themselves, the same necessity of 
choosing between two schools. One, lost in the dis- 
tinctions that it has developed, denies the func- 
tion because it can find objectively presented only 
states of consciousness. So it abrogates the func- 
tion, regarding it as a mere aggregate of such 
states, or as a purely external and factitious re- 

1 It may avoid misunderstanding if I anticipate here 
a subsequent remark: that my point is not in the least that 
" states of consciousness " require some " synthetic unity " 
or faculty of substantial mind to effect their association. 
Quite the contrary; for this theory also admits the "states 
of consciousness " as existences in themselves also. My 
contention is that the "state of consciousness" as such is 1 
always a methodological product, developed in the course 
and for the purposes of psychological analysis. 


lation between them. The other school, recogniz- 
ing that this procedure explains away rather than 
explains, the values of experience, attempts to even 
up by declaring that certain functions are them- 
selves immediately given data of consciousness, ex- 
is ting side by side with the " states," but indefi- 
nitely transcending them in worth, and appre- 
hended by some higher organ. So against the 
elementary contents and external associations of 
the analytic school in psychology, we have the 
complicated machinery of the intellectualist school, 
with its pure self-consciousness as a source of ulti- . 
mate truths, its hierarchy of intuitions, its ready- 
made faculties. To be sure, these " spiritual fac- 
ulties " are now largely reduced to some one com- 
prehensive form — Apperception, or Will, or Atten- 
tion, or whatever the fashionable term may be. 
But the principle remains the same ; the assumption 
of a function as a given existent, distinguishable 
in itself and acting upon other existences — as if 
the functions digestion and vision were regarded 
as separate from organic structures, somehow act- 
ing upon them from the outside so as to bring co- 
operation and harmony into them ! x This division 
into psychological schools is as reasonable as would 
be one of botanists into rootists and flowerists ; of 

1 The " functions " are in truth ordinary everyday acts 
and attitudes: seeing, smelling, talking, listening, remember- 
ing, hoping, loving, fearing. 


those proclaiming the root to be the rudimentary 
and essential structure, and those asserting that 
since the function of seed-bearing is the main thing, 
the flower is really the controlling " synthetic " 
principle. Both sensationalist and intellectualist 
suppose that psychology has some special sphere 
of " reality " or of experience marked off for it 
within which the data are just lying around, self- 
existent and ready-made, to be picked up and 
assorted as pebbles await the visitor on the beach. 
Both alike fail to recognize that the psychologist 
first has experience to deal with; the same experi- 
ence that the zoologist, geologist, chemist, mathe- 
matician, and historian deal with, and that what 
characterizes his specialty is not some data or ex- 
istences which he may call uniquely his own; but 
the problem raised — the problem of the course of 
the acts that constitute experiencing. 

Here psychology gets its revenge upon those who 
would rule it out of possession of important philo- 
sophical bearing. As a matter of fact, the larger 
part of the questions that are being discussed in 
current epistemology and what is termed meta- 
physic of logic and ethic arise out of (and are 
hopelessly compromised by) this original assump- 
tion of " consciousness as such " — in other words, 
are provoked by the exact reason that is given 
for denying to psychology any essential meaning 
for epistemology and metaphysic. Such is the 


irony of the situation. The epistemologist's prob- 
lem is, indeed, usually put as the question of how 
the subject can so far "transcend" itself as to 
get valid assurance of the objective world. The 
very phraseology in which the problem is put re- 
veals the thoroughness of the psychologist's re- 
venge. Just and only because experience has been 
reduced to " states of consciousness " as independ- 
ent existences, does the question of self -transcend- 
ence have any meaning. The entire epistemolog- 
ical industry is one — shall I say it— ofa Sisyphean 
nature. Mutatis mutandis, the same holds of the 
metaphysic of logic, ethic, and esthetic. In each 
case, the basic problem has come to be how a mere 
state of consciousness can be the vehicle of a system 
of truth, of an objectively valid good, of beauty 
which is other than agreeable feeling. We may, in- 
deed, excuse the psychologist for not carrying on 
the special inquiries that are the business of log- 
ical, ethical, and esthetical philosophy ; but can we 
excuse ourselves for forcing his results into such 
a shape as to make philosophic problems so arbi- 
trary that they are soluble only by arbitrarily 
wrenching scientific facts? 

Undoubtedly we are between two fires. In plac- 
ing upon psychology the responsibility of discov- 
ering the method of experience, as a sequence of 
acts and passions, do we not destroy just that 
limitation to concrete detail which now constitutes 


it a science? Will not the psychologist be the 
first to repudiate this attempt to mix him up in 
matters philosophical? We need only to keep in 
mind the specific facts involved in the term Course 
or Process of Experience to avoid this danger. 
The immediate preoccupation of the psychologist 
is with very definite and empirical facts — questions 
like the limits of audition, of the origin of pitch, 
of the structure and conditions of the musical scale, 
etc. Just so the immediate affair of the geologist 
is with particular rock-structures, of the botanist 
with particular plants, and so on. But through 
the collection, description, location, classification 
of rocks the geologist is led to the splendid story 
of world-forming. The limited, fixed, and sepa- 
rate piece of work is dissolved away in the fluent 
and dynamic drama of the earth. So, the plant 
leads with inevitableness to the whole process of 
life and its evolution. 

In form, the botanist still studies the genus, 
the species, the plant — hardly, indeed, that ; rather 
the special parts, the structural elements, of the 
plant. In reality, he studies life itself; the 
structures are the indications, the signature 
through which he renders transparent the mystery 
of life growing in the changing world. It was 
doubtless necessary for the botanist to go through 
the Linnean period — the period of engagement 
with rigid detail and fixed classifications ; of tear- 


ing apart and piecing together; of throwing all 
emphasis upon peculiarities of number, size, and 
appearance of matured structure; of regarding 
change, growth, and function as external, more or 
less interesting, attachments to form. Examina- 
tion of this period is instructive; there is much in 
contemporary investigation and discussion that is 
almost unpleasantly reminiscent in its suggestive- 
ness. The psychologist should profit by the inter- 
vening history of science. The conception of evo- 
lution is not so much an additional law as it is a 
face-about. The fixed structure, the separate 
form, the isolated element, is henceforth at best a' 
mere stepping-stone to knowledge of process, and 
when not at its best, marks the end of comprehen- 
sion, and betokens failure to grasp the problem. 

With the change in standpoint from self-in- 
cluded existence to including process, from struc- 
tural unit of composition to controlling unity of 
function, from changeless form to movement in 
growth, the whole scheme of values is transformed. 
Faculties are definite directions of development; 
elements are products that are starting-points for 
new processes ; bare facts are indices of change ; 
static conditions are modes of accomplished ad- 
justment. Not that the concrete, empirical phe- 
nomenon loses in worth, much less that unverifiable 
" metaphysical " entities are impertinently intro- 
duced; but that our aim is the discovery of a 


process of actions in its adaptations to circum- 
stance. If we apply this evolutionary logic in 
psychology, where shall we stop? Questions of 
limits of stimuli in a given sense, say hearing, are 
in reality questions of temporary arrests, adjust- 
ments marking the favorable equilibrium of the 
whole organism ; they connect with the question of 
the use of sensation in general and auditory sensa- 
tions in particular for life-habits; of the origin 
and use of localized and distinguished perception; 
and this, in turn, involves within itself the whole 
question of space and time recognition; the signi- 
ficance of the thing-and-quality experience, and 
so on. And when we are told that the question of 
the origin of space experience has nothing at all 
to do with the question of the nature and signifi- 
cance of the space experienced, the statement is 
simply evidence that the one who makes it is still 
at the static standpoint; he believes that things, 
that relations, have existence and significance 
apart from the particular conditions under which 
they come into experience, and apart from the 
special service rendered in those particular con- 

Of course, I am far from saying that every psy- 
chologist must make the whole journey. Each in- 
dividual may contract, as he pleases, for any sec- 
tion or subsection he prefers ; and undoubtedly the 
well-being of the science is advanced by such divi- 


sion of labor. But psychology goes over the whole 
ground from detecting every distinct act of ex- 
periencing, to seeing what need calls out the special 
organ fitted to cope with the situation, and discov- 
ering the machinery through which it operates to 
keep a-going the course of action. 

But, I shall be told, the wall that divides psy- 
chology from philosophy cannot be so easily 
treated as non-existent. Psychology is a matter 
of natural history, even though it may be admitted 
that it is the natural history of the course of ex- 
perience. But philosophy is a matter of values; 
of the criticism and justification of certain validi- 
ties. One deals, it is said, with genesis, with con- 
ditions of temporal origin and transition ; the other 
with analysis, with eternal constitution. I shall 
have to repeat that just this rigid separation of 
genesis and analysis seems to me a survival from a 
pre-evolutionary, a pre-historic age. It indicates 
not so much an assured barrier between philosophy 
and psychology as the distance dividing philos- 
ophy from all science. For the lesson that 
mathematicians first learned, that physics and 
chemistry pondered over, in which the biological 
disciplines were finally tutored, is that sure and 
delicate analysis is possible only through the pa-; 
tient study of conditions of origin and development. 
The method of analysis in mathematics is the 
method of construction. The experimental method 


is the method of making, of following the history 
of production ; the term " cause " that has (when 
taken as an existent entity) so hung on the heels 
of science as to impede its progress, has universal 
meaning when read as condition of appearance in 
a process. And, as already intimated, the concep- 
tion of evolution is no more and no less the dis^ ^ 
covery of a general law of life than it is the gen- 
eralization of all scientific method. Everywhere 
analysis that cannot proceed by examining the suc- 
cessive stages of its subject, from its beginning 
up to its culmination, that cannot control this 
examination by discovering the conditions under 
which successive stages appear, is only prelimi- 
nary. It may further the invention of proper tools 
of inquiry, it may help define problems, it may 
serve to suggest valuable hypotheses. But as 
science it breathes an air already tainted. There 
is no way to sort out the results flowing from the 
subject-matter itself from those introduced by the 
assumptions and presumptions of our own reflec- 
tion. Not so with natural history when it is 
worthy of its name. Here the analysis is the un- 
folding of the existence itself. Its distinctions are 
not pigeon-holes of our convenience; they are 
stakes that mark the parting of the ways in the 
process itself. Its classifications are not a grasp 
at factors resisting further analysis; they are 
the patient tracings of the paths pursued. Noth- 


ing is more out of date than to suppose that 
interest in genesis is interest in reducing higher 
forms to cruder ones : it is interest in locating the 
exact and objective conditions under which a 
given fact appears, and in relation to which ac- 
cordingly it has its meaning. Nothing is more 
naive than to suppose that in pursuing " natural 
history " (term of scorn in which yet resides 
the dignity of the world-drama) we simply learn 
something of the temporal conditions under which 
a given value appears, while its own eternal 
essential quality remains as opaque as before. Na- 
ture knows no such divorce of quality and circum- 
stance. Things come when they are wanted and 
as they are wanted; their quality is precisely the 
response they give to the conditions that call for 
them, while the furtherance they afford to the 
movement of their whole is their meaning. The 
severance of analysis and genesis, instead of serv- 
ing as a ready-made test by which to try out the 
empirical, temporal events of psychology from the 
rational abiding constitution of philosophy, is a 
brand of philosophic ^ dualism : the supposition 
that values are externally obtruded and statically 
set in irrelevant rubbish. 

There are those who will admit that " states of 
consciousness " are but the cross-sections of flow of 
behavior, arrested for inspection, made in order 
that we may reconstruct experience in its life- 


history. Yet in the knowledge of the course and 
method of our experience, they will hold that we 
are far from the domain proper of philosophy. 
Experience, they say, is just the historic achieve- 
ment of finite individuals; it tells the tale of ap- 
proach to the treasures of truth, of partial vic- 
tory, but larger defeat, in laying hold of the 
treasure. But, they say, reality is not the path 
to reality, and record of devious wanderings in the 
path is hardly a safe account of the goal. Psychol- 
ogy, in other words, may tell us something of how 
we mortals lay hold of the world of things and 
truths; of how we appropriate and assimilate its 
contents ; and of how we react. It may trace the 
issues of such approaches and apprehensions upon 
the course of our own individual destinies. But it 
cannot wisely ignore nor sanely deny the distinc- 
tion between these individual strivings and achieve- 
ments, and the " Reality " that subsists and sup- 
ports its own structure outside these finite futilities. 
The processes by which we turn over The Reality 
into terms of our fragmentary unconcluded, in- 
conclusive experiences are so extrinsic to the Real- 
ity itself as to have no revealing power with refer- 
ence to it. There is the ordo ad universum, the 
subject of philosophy; there is the ordo ad m- 
dividuum, the subject of psychology. 

Some such assumption as this lies latent, I am 
convinced, in all forswearings of the kinship of 


psychology and philosophy. Two conceptions 
hang together. The opinion that psychology is an 
account only and finally of states of consciousness, 
and therefore can throw no light upon the objects 
with which philosophy deals, is twin to the doctrine 
that the whole conscious life of the individual is 
not organic to the world. The philosophic basis 
and scope of this doctrine lie beyond examination 
here. But even in passing one cannot avoid re- 
marking that the doctrine is almost never consist- 
ently held ; the doctrine logically carried out leads 
so directly to intellectual and moral scepticism that i 
the theory usually prefers to work in the dark 
background as a disposition and temper of thought 
rather than to make a frank statement of itself. 
Even in the half-hearted expositions of the process 
of human experience as something merely annexed 
to the reality of the universe, we are brought face 
to face to the consideration with which we set out: 
the dependence of theories of the individual upon 
the position at a given time of the individual prac- 
tical and social. The doctrine of the acci- 
dental, futile, transitory significance of the indi- 
vidual's experience as compared with eternal real- 
ities ; the notion that at best the individual is simply 
realizing for and in himself what already has fixed 
completeness in itself is congruous only with a 
certain intellectual and political scheme and must 
modify itself as that shifts. When such re- 


arrangement comes, our estimate of the nature 
and importance of psychology will mirror the 

When man's command of the methods that con- 
trol action was precarious and disturbed; when 
the tools that subject the world of things and 
forces to use and operation were rare and clumsy, 
it was unavoidable that the individual should sub- 
mit his perception and purpose blankly to the 
blank reality beyond. Under such circumstances, 
external authority must reign ; the belief that hu- 
man experience in itself is approximate, not in- 
trinsic, is inevitable. Under such circumstances, 
reference to the individual, to the subject, is a re- 
sort only for explaining error, illusion, and uncer- 
tainty. The necessity of external control and ex- 
ternal redemption of experience reports itself in a 
low valuation of the self, and of all the factors and 
phases of experience that spring from the self. 
That the psychology of medievalism should appear 
only as a portion of its theology of sin and salva- 
tion is as obvious as that the psychology of the 
Greeks should be a chapter of cosmology. 

As against all this, the assertion is ventured 
that psychology, supplying us with knowledge of 
the behavior of experience, is a conception of de- 
mocracy. Its postulate is that since experience 
fulfils itself in individuals, since it administers 
itself through their instrumentality, the account of 


the course and method of this achievement is a 
significant and indispensable affair. 

Democracy is possible only because of a change 
in intellectual conditions. It implies tools for get- 
ting at truth in detail, and day by day, as we go 
along. Only such possession justifies the surrender 
of fixed, all-embracing principles to which, as uni- 
versal, all particulars and individuals are subject 
for valuation and regulation. Without such pos- 
session, it is only the courage of the fool that 
would undertake the venture to which democracy 
has committed itself — the ordering of life in re- 
sponse to the needs of the moment in accordance 
with the ascertained truth of the moment. Modern 
life involves the deification of the here and the 
now; of the specific, the particular, the unique, 
that which happens once and has no measure of 
value save such as it brings with itself. Such dei- 
fication is monstrous fetishism, unless the deity be 
there ; unless the universal lives, moves, and has its 
being in experience as individualized. 1 This con- 

1 This is perhaps a suitable moment to allude to the ab- 
sence, in this discussion, of reference to what is some- 
times termed rational psychology — the assumption of a 
separate, substantialized ego, soul, or whatever, existing 
side by side with particular experiences and " states of con- 
sciousness," acting upon them and acted upon by them. In 
ignoring this and confining myself to the "states of con- 
sciousness" theory and the "natural history" theory, I 
may appear not only to have unduly narrowed the concerns 



viction of the value of the individualized finds its 
further expression in psychology, which undertakes 
to show how this individualization proceeds, and in 
what aspect it presents itself. 

Of course, such a conception means something 
for philosophy as well as for psychology ; possibly 
it involves for philosophy the larger measure of 
transformation. It involves surrender of any claim 
on the part of philosophy to be the sole source 
of some truths and the exclusive guardian of some 

at issue, but to have weakened my own point, as this doc- 
trine seems to offer a special vantage ground whence to 
defend the close relationship of psychology and philosophy. 
The "narrowing," if such it be, will have to pass — from 
limits of time and other matters. But the other point 
I cannot concede. The independently existing soul restricts 
and degrades individuality, making of it a separate thing 
outside of the full flow of things, alien to things experi- 
enced and consequently in either mechanical or miraculous 
relations to them. It is vitiated by just the quality already 
objected to — that psychology has a separate piece of reality 
apportioned to it, instead of occupying itself with the 
manifestation and operation of any and all existences in 
reference to concrete action. From this point of view, the 
" states of consciousness " attitude is a much more hopeful 
and fruitful one. It ignores certain considerations, to be 
sure; and when it turns its ignoring into denial, it leaves 
us with curious hieroglyphics. But after all, there is a key; 
these symbols can be read; they may be translated into 
terms of the course of experience. When thus translated, 
selfhood, individuality, is neither wiped out nor set up as a 
miraculous and foreign entity; it is seen as the unity of 
reference and function involved in all things when fully 
experienced — the pivot about which they turn. 


values. It means that philosophy be a method; 
not an assurance company, nor a knight errant. I 
It means an alignment with science. Philosophy 
may not be sacrificed to the partial and superficial 
clamor of that which sometimes officiously and pre- 
tentiously exhibits itself as Science. But there is 
a sense in which philosophy must go to school to 
the sciences; must have no data save such as it 
receives at their hands ; and be hospitable to no 
method of inquiry or reflection not akin to those in 
daily use among the sciences. As long as it claims 
for itself special territory of fact, or peculiar 
modes of access to truth, so long must it occupy a 
dubious position. Yet this claim it has to make 
until psychology comes to its own. There is some- 
thing in experience, something in things, which the 
physical and the biological sciences do not touch ; 
something, moreover, which is not just more ex- 
periences or more existences; but without which 
their materials are inexperienced, unrealized. Such 
sciences deal only with what might be experienced; 
with the content of experience, provided and as- 
sumed there be experience. It is psychology which 
tells us how this possible experience loses its barely 
hypothetical character, and is stamped with cate- 
gorical unquestioned experiencedness ; how, in a 
word, it becomes here and now in some uniquely 
individualized life. Here is the necessary transi- 
tion of science into philosophy; a passage that 


carries the verified and solid body of the one into the 
large and free form of the other. 

[Note: I have let this paper stand much as written, though 
(now conscious that much more is crowded into it than could 
properly be presented in one paper. The drift of the ten 
years from '99 to '09 has made, I venture to believe, for in- 
creased clearness in the main positions of the paper: The 
revival of a naturalistic realism, the denial of the existence 
of " consciousness," the development of functional and 
dynamic psychology (accompanied by aversion to interpre- 
tation of functions as faculties of a soul-substance) — all of 
these tendencies are sympathetic with the aim of the paper. 
There is another reason for letting it stand: the new func- 
tional and pragmatic empiricism proffered in this volume 
has been constantly objected to on the ground that its con- 
ceptions of knowledge and verification lead only to sub- 
jectivism and solipsism. The paper may indicate that the 
identification of experience with bare states of consciousness 
represents the standpoint of the critic, not of the empiricism 
criticised, and that it is for him, not for me, to fear the 
subjective implications of such a position. The paper also 
clearly raises the question as to how far the isolation of 
" consciousness " from nature and social life, which charac- 
terizes the procedure of many psychologists of to-day, is 
responsible for keeping alive quite unreal problems in phi- 


TT is now something over a century since Kant 
* called upon philosophers to cease their discus- 
sion regarding the nature of the world and the 
principles of existence until they had arrived at 
jsome conclusion regarding the nature of the know- 
ing process. But students of philosophy know 
that Kant formulated the question " how knowl- 
edge is possible " rather than created it. As mat- 
ter of fact, reflective thought for two centuries 
before Kant had been principally interested in just 
this problem, although it had not generalized its 
own interest. Kant brought to consciousness the 
controlling motive. The discussion, both in Kant 
himself and in his successors, often seems scholas- 
tic, lost in useless subtlety, scholastic argument, 
and technical distinctions. Within the last decade 
in particular there have been signs of a growing 
weariness as to epistemology, and a tendency to 

1 Delivered before the Philosophical Club of the Univer- 
\ sity of Michigan, in the winter of 1897, and reprinted with 
slight change from a monograph in the " University of Chi- 
cago Contributions to Philosophy," 1897. 



turn away to more fertile fields. The interest 
shows signs of exhaustion. 

Students of philosophy will recognize what I 
mean when I say that this growing conviction of 
futility and consequent distaste are associated with 
the outcome of the famous dictum of Kant, that 

I perception without conception is blind, while con- 
ception without perception is empty. The whole 
course of reflection since Kant's time has tended to 
justify this remark. The sensationalist and the 
rationalist have worked themselves out. Pretty 
much all students are convinced that we can reduce 
knowledge neither to a set of associated sensations, 
nor yet to a purely rational system of relations of 

rthought. Knowledge is judgment, and judgment 
requires both a material of sense perception and 
an ordering, regulating principle, reason ; so much 
seems certain, but we do not get any further. 
Sensation and thought themselves seem to stand 
out more rigidly opposed to each other in their 
own natures than ever. Why both are necessary, 

. and how two such opposed factors cooperate in 
bringing about the unified result of science, be- 
comes more and more of a mystery. It is the 
continual running up against this situation which 
accounts for the flagging of interest and the desire 
to direct energy where it will have more outcome. 

This situation creates a condition favorable to 
taking stock of the question as it stands; to in- 


quiring what this interest, prolonged for over three 
centuries, in the possibility and nature of knowl- 
edge, stands for; what the conviction as to the 
necessity of the union of sensation and thought, 
together with the inability to reach conclusions re- 
garding the nature of the union, signifies. 

I propose then to raise this evening precisely 
this question : What is the meaning of the problem 
of knowledge? What is its meaning, not simply 
for reflective philosophy or in terms of epistemol- 
ogy itself, but what is its meaning in the historical 
movement of humanity and as a part of a larger 
and more comprehensive experience? My thesis 
is perhaps sufficiently indicated in the mere taking 
of this point of view. It implies that the abstract- 
ness of the discussion of knowledge, its remoteness 
from everyday experience, is one of form, rather 
than of substance. It implies that the problem of 
knowledge is not a problem that has its origin, its 
value, or its destiny within itself. The problem is 
one which social life, the organized practice of man- 
kind, has had to face. The seemingly technical and 
abstruse discussion of the philosophers results from 
the formulation and statement of the question. 

I suggest that the problem of the possibility of 
knowledge is but an aspect of the question of the 
relation of knowing to acting, of theory to prac- 
tice. The distinctions which the philosophers raise, 
the oppositions which they erect, the weary tread- 


mill which they pursue between sensation and 
thought, subject and object, mind and matter, are 
not invented ad hoc, but are simply the concise re- 
ports and condensed formula of points of view and 
practical conflicts having their source in the very 
nature of modern life, conflicts which must be met 
and solved if modern life is to go on its way un- 
troubled, with clear consciousness of what it is 
about. As the philosopher has received his prob- 
lem from the world of action, so he must return 
his account there for auditing and liquidation. 

More especially, I suggest that the tendency of 
all the points at issue to precipitate in the opposi- 
tion of sensationalism and rationalism is due to the 
fact that sensation and reason stand for the two 

V forces contending for mastery in social life: the 
radical and the conservative. The reason that the 
contest does not end, the reason for the necessity 
of the combination of the two in the resultant state- 
ment, is that both factors are necessary in action ; 

j one stands for stimulus, for initiative ; the other for 

I control, for direction. 

I cannot hope, in the time at my command this 
evening, to justify these wide and sweeping asser- 
tions regarding either the origin, the work, or the 
final destiny of philosophic reflection. I simply 
hope, by reference to some of the chief periods of 
the development of philosophy, to illustrate to you 
something of what I mean. 


At the outset we take a long scope in our survey 
and present to ourselves the epoch when philosophy 
was still consciously, and not simply by implica- 
tion, human, when reflective thought had not devel- 
oped its own technique of method, and was in no 
danger of being caught in its own machinery — the 
time of Socrates. What does the assertion of 
Socrates that an unexamined life is not one fit to 
be led by man; what does his injunction " Know 
thyself " mean ? It means that the corporate 
motives and guarantees of conduct are breaking 
down. We have got away from the time when the 
individual could both regulate and justify his 
course of life by reference to the ideals incarnate 
in the habits of the community of which he is a 
member. The time of direct and therefore uncon- 
scious union with corporate life, finding therein 
stimuli, codes, and values, has departed. The de- 
velopment of industry and commerce, of war and 
politics, has brought face to face communities with 
different aims and diverse habits ; the development 
of myth and animism into crude but genuine scien- 
tific observation and imagination has transformed 
the physical widening of the horizon, brought 
about by commerce and intercourse, into an in- 
tellectual and moral expansion. The old supports 
fail precisely at the time when they are most needed 
— before a widening and more complex scene of 
action. Where, then, shall the agent of action 


turn ? The " Know thyself " of Socrates is the re- 
ply to the practical problem which confronted 
Athens in his day. Investigation into the true 
ends and worths of human life, sifting and test- 
ing of all competing ends, the discovery of a 
method which should validate the genuine and 
dismiss the spurious, had henceforth to do for 
man what consolidated and incorporate custom 
had hitherto presented as a free and precious 

With Socrates the question is as direct and prac- 
tical as the question of making one's living or of 
governing the state ; it is indeed the same question 
put in its general form. It is a question that the 
flute player, the cobbler, and the politician must 
face no more and no less than the reflective philos- 
opher. The question is addressed by Socrates to 
every individual and to every group with which he 
comes in contact. Because the question is practi- 
cal it is individual and direct. It is a question 
which every one must face and answer for himself, 
just as in the Protestant scheme every individual 
must face and solve for himself the question of his 
final destiny. 

Yet the very attitude of Socrates carried with it 
the elements of its own destruction. Socrates could 
only raise the question, or rather demand of every 
individual that he raise it for himself. Of the 
answer he declared himself to be as ignorant as 


was any one. The result could be only a shifting 
of the center of interest. If the question is so all- 
important, and yet the wisest of all men must con- 
fess that he only knows his own ignorance as to its 
answer, the inevitable point of further considera- 
tion is the discovery of a method which shall enable 
the question to be answered. This is the signifi- 
cance of Plato. The problem is the absolutely in- 
evitable outgrowth of the Socratic position; and 
yet it carried with it just as inevitably the separa- 
tion of philosopher from shoemaker and statesman, 
and the relegation of theory to a position remote 
for the time being from conduct. 

If the Socratic command, " Know thyself," runs 
against the dead wall of inability to conduct this 
knowledge, some one must take upon himself the 
discovery of how the requisite knowledge may be 
obtained. A new profession is born, that of the 
thinker. At this time the means, the discovery of 
how the aims and worths of the self may be known 
and measured, becomes, for this class, an end in 
itself. Theory is ultimately to be applied to prac- 
tice ; but in the meantime the theory must be worked 
out as theory or else no application. This repre- 
sents the peculiar equilibrium and the peculiar 
point of contradiction in the Platonic system. All 
philosophy is simply for the sake of the organiza- 
| tion and regulation of social life ; and yet the phi- 
losophers must be a class by themselves, working 


out their peculiar problems with their own partic- 
ular tools. 

With Aristotle the attempted balance failed. 
Social life is disintegrating beyond the point of 
hope of a successful reorganization, and thinking 
is becoming a fascinating pursuit for its own sake. 
The world of practice is now the world of com- 
promise and of adjustment. It is relative to par- 
tial aims and finite agents. The sphere of abso- 
lute and enduring truth and value can be reached 
only in and through thought. The one who acts 
compromises himself with the animal desire that 
inspires his action and with the alien material that 
forms its stuff. In two short generations the 
divorce of philosophy from life, the isolation of 
reflective theory from practical conduct, has com- 
pleted itself. So great is the irony of history that 
this sudden and effective outcome was the result 
of the attempt to make thought the instrument of 
action, and action the manifestation of truth 
reached by thinking. 

But this statement must not be taken too liter- 
ally. It is impossible that men should really sepa- 
rate their ideas from their acts. If we look ahead 
a few centuries we find that the philosophy of 
Plato and Aristotle has accomplished, in an in- 
direct and unconscious way, what perhaps it could 
never have effected by the more immediate and 
practical method of Socrates. Philosophy became 


an organ of vision, an instrument of interpreta- 
tion; it furnished the medium through which the 
world was seen and the course of life estimated. 
Philosophy died as philosophy, to rise as the set 
and bent of the human mind. Through a thousand 
and devious and roundabout channels, the thoughts 
of the philosophers filtered through the strata of 
human consciousness and conduct. Through the 
teachings of grammarians, rhetoricians, and a va- 
riety of educational schools, they were spread in 
diluted form through the whole Roman Empire 
and were again precipitated in the common forms 
of speech. Through the earnestness of the moral 
propaganda of the Stoics they became the working 
rules of life for the more strenuous and earnest 
spirits. Through the speculations of the Sceptics 
and Epicureans they became the chief reliance and 
consolation of a large number of highly cultured 
individuals amid social turmoil and political dis- 
integration. All these influences and many more 
finally summed themselves up in the two great 
media through which Greek philosophy finally 
fixed the intellectual horizon of man, determined 
the values of its perspective, and meted out the 
boundaries and divisions of the scene of human 

These two influences were the development of 
Christian theology and moral theory, and the or- 
ganization of the system of Roman jurisprudence. 


There is perhaps no more fascinating chapter in 
the history of humanity than the slow and tortu- 
ous processes by which the ideas set in motion by 
that Athenian citizen who faced death as serenely 
as he conversed with a friend, finally became the 
intellectually organizing centers of the two great 
movements that bridge the span between ancient 
civilization and modern. As the personal and im- 
mediate force and enthusiasm of the movement 
initiated by Jesus began to grow fainter and the 
commanding influence of his own personality com- 
menced to dim, the ideas of the world and of 
life, of God and of man, elaborated in Greek 
philosophy, served to transform moral enthusiasm 
and personal devotion to the redemption of hu- 
manity, into a splendid and coherent view of the 
universe ; a view that resisted all disintegrating in- 
fluences and gathered into itself the permanent 
ideas and progressive ideals thus far developed in 
the history of man. 

We have only a faint idea of how this was ac- 
complished, or of the thoroughness of the work 
done. We have perhaps even more inadequate 
conceptions of the great organizing and central- 
izing work done by Greek thought in the political 
sphere. When the military and administrative 
genius of Rome brought the whole world in sub-' 
jection to itself, the most pressing of practical 
problems was to give unity of practical aim and 


harmony of working machinery to the vast and 
confused mass of local custom and tradition, re- 
ligious, social, economic, and intellectual, as well 
as political. In this juncture the great adminis- 
trators and lawyers of Rome seized with avidity 
upon the results of the intellectual analysis of so- 
cial and political relations elaborated in Greek 
philosophy. Caring naught for these results in 
their reflective and theoretical character, they saw 
in them the possible instrument of introducing or- 

*der into chaos and of transforming the confused 
and conflicting medley of practice and opinion 
into a harmonious social structure. Roman law, 
that formed the vertebral column of civilization 

.for a thousand years, and which articulated the 
outer order of life as distinctly as Christianity 
controlled the inner, was the outcome. 

Thought was once more in unity with action, 
philosophy had become the instrument of conduct. 
Mr. Bosanquet makes the pregnant remark " that 
the weakness of medieval science and philosophy 
are connected rather with excess of practice than 
with excess of theory. The subordination of phi- 
losophy to theology is a subordination of science to 
a formulated conception of human welfare. Its 
essence is present, not wherever there is metaphys- 
ics but wherever the spirit of truth is subordinated 
to any preconceived practical intent." (" His- 
tory of Esthetics," p. 146.) 


Once more the irony of history displays itself. 
Thought has become practical, it has become the 
regulator of individual conduct and social organi- 

> zation, but at the expense of its own freedom and 
power. The defining characteristic of medieval- 
ism in state and in church, in political and spiritual 

I life, is that truth presents itself to the individual 
only through the medium of organized authority. 
There was a historical necessity on the external 
as well as the internal side. We have not the re- 
motest way of imagining what the outcome would 
finally have been if, at the time when the intellectual 
structure of the Christian church and the legal 
structure of the Roman Empire had got themselves 
thoroughly organized, the barbarians had not made 
their inroads and seized upon all this accumulated 
and consolidated wealth as their own legitimate 
prey. But this was what did happen. As a re- 
sult, truths originally developed by the freest 
possible criticism and investigation became exter- 

l nal, and imposed themselves upon the mass of in- 
dividuals by the mere weight of authoritative 
law. The external, transcendental, and super- 
natural character of spiritual truth and of social 
control during the Middle Ages is naught but the 
mirror, in consciousness, of the relation existing 
between the eager, greedy, undisciplined horde of 
barbarians on one side, and the concentrated 
achievements of ancient civilization on the other. 


There was no way out save that the keen barbarian 
whet his appetite upon the rich banquet spread 
before him. But there was equally no way out so 
far as the continuity of civilization was concerned 
save that the very fullness and richness of this 
banquet set limits to the appetite, and finally, when 
assimilated and digested, it be transformed into the 
flesh and blood, the muscles and sinew of him who 
sat at the feast. Thus the barbarian ceased to be 
a barbarian and a new civilization arose. 

But the time came when the work of absorption 
was fairly complete. The northern barbarians 
had eaten the food and drunk the wine of Graeco- 
Roman civilization. The authoritative truth em- 
bodied in medieval state and church succeeded, in 
principle, in disciplining the untrained masses. 
Its very success issued its own death warrant. To 
say that it had succeeded means that the new 
people had finally eaten their way into the heart 
of the ideas offered them, had got from them 
1 what they wanted, and were henceforth prepared 
to go their own way and make their own living. 
Here a new rhythm of the movement of thought 
and action begins to show itself. 

The beginning of this change in the swing of 
/thought and action forms the transition from the 
Middle Ages to the modern times. It is the epoch 
of the Renaissance. The individual comes to a 
new birth and asserts his own individuality and 


demands his own rights in the way of feeling, do- 
ing, and knowing for himself. Science, art, re- 
ligion, political life, must all be made over on the 
basis of recognizing the claims of the individual. 
Pardon me these commonplaces, but they are 
necessary to the course of the argument. By his- 
toric fallacy we often suppose, or imagine that we 
suppose, that the individual had been present as a 
possible center of action all through the Middle 
Ages, but through some external and arbitrary in- 
terference had been weighted down by political and 
intellectual despotism. All this inverts the true 
order of the case. The very possibility of the 
individual making such unlimited demands for him- 
self, claiming to be the legitimate center of all 
■ action and standard for all organization, was de- 
f pendent, as I have already indicated, upon the in- 
tervening medievalism. Save as having passed 
through this period of tremendous discipline, and 
having gradually worked over into his own habits 
and purposes the truths embodied in the church 
and state that controlled his conduct, the individ- 
ual could be only a source of disorder and a dis- 
turber of civilization. The very maintenance of 
the spiritual welfare of mankind was bound up in 
the extent to which the claim of truth and reality 
to be universal and objective, far above all indi- 
vidual feeling and thought, could make itself valid. 
The logical realism and universalism of scholastic 


philosophy simply reflect the actual subjection of 
the individual to that associated and corporate life 
which, in conserving the past, provided the princi- 
ple of control. 

But the eager, hungry barbarian was there, im- 
plicated in this universalism. He must be active 
in receiving and in absorbing the truth authorita- 
tively doled out to him. Even the most rigid forms 
of medieval Christianity could not avoid postulat- 
ing the individual will as having a certain initiative 
with reference to its own salvation. The impulses, 
the appetite, the instinct of the individual were all 
assumed in medieval morals, religion, and politics. 
The imagined medieval tyranny took them for 
granted as completely as does the modern herald 
of liberty and equality. But the medieval civil- 
ization knew that the time had not come when 
these appetites and impulses could be trusted to 
work themselves out. They must be controlled by 
the incorporate truths inherited from Athens and 

The very logic of the relationship, however, re- 
quired that the time come when the individual 
makes his own the objective and universal truths. 
He is now the incorporation of truth. He now has 
j the control as well as the stimulus of action within 
himself. He is the standard and the end, as well 
as the initiator and the effective force of execution. 
Just because the authoritative truth of medieval- 


ism has succeeded, has fulfilled its function, the 
individual can begin to assert himself. 

Contrast this critical period, finding its expres- 
sion equally in the art of the Renaissance, the re- 
vival of learning, the Protestant Reformation, and 
political democracy, with Athens in the time of 
Socrates. Then individuals felt their own social 
life disintegrated, dissolving under their very feet. 
The problem was how the value of that social life 
was to be maintained against the external and in- 
ternal forces that were threatening it. The prob- 
lem was on the side neither of the individual nor of 
progress ; save as the individual was seen to be an 
intervening instrument in the reconstruction of the 
social unity. But with the individual of the four- 
teenth century, it was not his own intimate com- 
munity life which was slipping away from him. It 
was an alien and remote life which had finally be- 
come his own ; which had passed over into his own 
inner being. The problem was not how a unity 
of social life should be conserved, but what the in- 
l dividual should do with the wealth of resources of 
which he found himself the rightful heir and ad- 
ministrator. The problem looked out upon the 
future, not back to the past. It was how to create 
a new order, both of modes of individual conduct 
and forms of social life that should be the appro- 
priate manifestations of the vigorous and richly 
endowed individual. 


Hence the conception of progress as a rul- 
ing idea; the conception of the individual as 
the source and standard of rights ; and the problem 
of knowledge, were all born together. Given the 
freed individual, who feels called upon to create a 
new heaven and a new earth, and who feels himself 
gifted with the power to perform the task to which 
he is called: — and the demand for science, for a 

' method of discovering and verifying truth, becomes 
imperious. The individual is henceforth to supply 
control, law, and not simply stimulation and initia- 
tion. What does this mean but that instead of 
any longer receiving or assimilating truth, he is 
now to search for and create it? Having no 
longer the truth imposed by authority to rely upon, 
there is no resource save to secure the authority 
of truth. The possibility of getting at and utiliz- 
ing this truth becomes therefore the underlying 
and conditioning problem of modern life. Strange 
as it may sound, the question which was formulated 

• by Kant as that of the possibility of knowledge, 
is the fundamental political problem of modern 

Science and metaphysics or philosophy, though 
seeming often to be at war, with their respective 
adherents often throwing jibes and slurs at each 
other, are really the most intimate allies. The 
philosophic movement is simply the coming to con- 
sciousness of this claim of the individual to be able 


to discover and verify truth for himself, and 
thereby not only to direct his own conduct, but to 
, become an influential and decisive factor in the or- 
ganization of life itself. Modern philosophy is the 
formulation of this creed, both in general and in 
its more specific implications. We often forget 
that the technical problem " how knowledge is pos- 
sible," also means " how knowledge is possible " ; 
how, that is, shall the individual be able to back 
himself up by truth which has no authority save 
that of its own intrinsic truthfulness. Science, on 
the other hand, is simply this general faith or creed 
asserting itself in detail; it is the practical faith 
at work engaged in subjugating the foreign terri- 
tory of ignorance and falsehood step by step. If 
the ultimate outcome depends upon this detailed 
and concrete work, we must not forget that the 
earnestness and courage, as well as the intelligence 
and clearness with which the task has been under- 
taken, have depended largely upon the wider, even 
if vaguer, operation of philosophy. 

But the student of philosophy knows more than 
that the problem of knowledge has been with in- 
creasing urgency and definiteness the persistent 
and comprehensive problem. So conscious is he of 
the two opposed theories regarding the nature of 
science, that he often forgets the underlying 
bond of unity of which we have been speaking. 
These two opposing schools are those which we 


j know as the sensationalist and the intellectualist, 

* the empiricist and the rationalist. Admitting that 
the dominance of the question of the possibility 
and nature of knowledge is at bottom a funda- 
mental question of practice and of social direc- 
tion, is this distinction anything more than the 
clash of scholastic opinions, a rivalry of ideas 
meaningless for conduct? 

I think it is. Having made so many sweeping 
assertions I must venture one more. Fanciful and 
forced as it may seem, I would say that the sensa- 
tional and empirical schools represent in conscious 

I and reflective form the continuation of the princi- 
ple of the northern and barbarian side of medieval 
life; while the intellectualist and the rationalist 
stand for the conscious elaboration of the principle 
involved in the Gragco-Roman tradition. 

Once more, as I cannot hope to prove, let me 
expand and illustrate. The sensationalist has 
staked himself upon the possibility of explaining 
and justifying knowledge by conceiving it as the 

I grouping and combination of the qualities directly 
given us in sensation. The special reasons ad- 
vanced in support of this position are sufficiently 
technical and remote. But the motive which has 
kept the sensationalist at work, which animated 
Hobbes and Locke, Hume and John Stuart Mill, 
Voltaire and Diderot, was a human not a scholastic 
one. It was the belief that only in sensation do 


we get any personal contact with reality, and 
j hence, any genuine guarantee of vital truth. 
j Thought is pale, and remote from the concrete 
stuff of knowledge and experience. It only formu- 
lates and duplicates ; it only divides and recombines 
that fullness of vivid reality got directly and at 
first hand in sense experience. Reason, compared 
with sense, is indirect, emasculate, and faded. 

Moreover, reason and thought in their very 
generality seem to lie beyond and outside the in- 
dividual. In this remoteness, when they claim any 
final value, they violate the very first principle of 
the modern consciousness. What is the distin- 
guishing characteristic of modern life, unless it be 
precisely that the individual shall not simply get, 
y and reason about, truth in the abstract, but shall 
make it his own in the most intimate and personal 
way? He has not only to know the truth in the 
sense of knowing about it, but he must feel it. 
What is sensation but the answer to this demand 
for the most individual and intimate contact with 
reality? Show me a sensationalist and I will show 
you not only one who believes that he is on the 
side of concreteness and definiteness, as against 
washed-out abstractions and misty general no- 
tions : but also one who believes that he is identified 
with the cause of the individual as distinct from 
that of external authority. We have only to go 
to our Locke and our Mill to see that opposition 


to the innate and the a priori was felt to be oppo- 
sition to the deification of hereditary prejudice and 
to the reception of ideas without examination or 
criticism. Personal contact with reality through 
sensation seemed to be the only safeguard from 
opinions which, while masquerading in the guise of 
absolute and eternal truth, were in reality but the 
prejudices of the past become so ingrained as to 
insist upon being standards of truth and action. 

Positively as well as negatively, the sensational- 
ists have felt themselves to represent the side of 
progress. In its supposed eternal character, a 
general notion stands ready made, fixed forever, 
without reference to time, without the possibility 
of change or diversity. As distinct from this, the 
sensation represents the never-failing eruption of 
the new. It is the novel, the unexpected, that 
which cannot be reasoned out in eternal formula, 
but must be hit upon in the ever-changing flow of 
our experience. It thus represents stimulation, 
excitation, momentum onwards. It gives a con- 
stant protest against the assumption of any theory 
or belief to possess finality; and it supplies the 
ever-renewed presentation of material out of which 
to build up new objects and new laws. 

The sensationalist appears to have a good case. 
He stands for vividness and definiteness against 
abstraction ; for the engagement of the individual 
in experience as against the remote and general 


thought about experience; and for progress and 
for variety against the eternal fixed monotony of 
the concept. But what says the rationalist? 
What value has experience, he inquires, if it is sim- 
ply a chaos of disintegrated and floating debris? 
What is the worth of personality and individuality 
when they are reduced to crudity of brute feeling 
and sheer intensity of impulsive reaction? What 
is there left in progress that we should desire it, 
when it has become a mere unregulated flux of 
transitory sensations, coming and going without 
reasonable motivation or rational purpose? 

Thus the intellectualist has endeavored to frame 

/ the structure of knowledge as a well-Ordered econ- 
omy, where reason is sovereign, where the perma- 
nent is the standard of reference for the changing, 
and where the individual may always escape from 
his own mere individuality and find support and 
reinforcement in a system of relations that lies 
outside of and yet gives validity to his own passing 
states of consciousness. Thus the rationalists hold 
that we must find in a universal intelligence a 
source of truth and guarantee of value that is 
sought in vain in the confused and flowing mass 
of sensations. 

The rationalist, in making the concept or gen- 
eral idea the all-important thing in knowledge, be- 

\ lieves himself to be asserting the interests of order 
as against destructive caprice and the license of 


momentary whim. He finds that his cause is 
bound up with that of the discovery of truth as 
the necessary instrument and method for action. 
Only by reference to the general and the rational 
can the individual find perspective, secure direc- 
tion for his appetites and impulses, and escape from 
the uncontrolled and ruinous reactions of his own 
immediate tendency. 

The concept, once more, in its very generality, 
in its elevation above the intensities and conflicts of 
momentary passions and interests, is the conserver 
of the experience of the past. It is the wisdom of 
the past put into capitalized and funded form to 
I enable the individual to get away from the stress 
and competition of the needs of the passing mo- 
ment. It marks the difference between barbarism 
and civilization, between continuity and disintegra- 
tion, between the sequence of tradition that is the 
necessity of intelligent thought and action, and 
the random and confused excitation of the hour. 
When we thus consider not the details of the 
positions of the sensationalist and rationalist, but 
the motives that have induced them to assume 
these positions, we discover what is meant in saying 
that the question is still a practical, a social one, 
and that the two schools stand for certain one- 
sided factors of social life. If we have on one side 
the demand for freedom, for personal initiation 
into experience, for variety and progress, we have 


on the other side the demand for general order, 
for continuous and organized unity, for the con- 
servation of the dearly bought resources of the 
past. This is what I mean by saying that the 
sensationalist abstracts in conscious form the 
position and tendency of the Germanic element in 

*\ modern civilization, the factor of appetite and im- 
pulse, of keen enjoyment and satisfaction, of stim- 
ulus and initiative. Just so the rationalist erects 
into conscious abstraction the principle of the 
Grasco-Roman world, that of control, of system, 
of order and authority. 

That the principles of freedom and order, of 
past and future, or conservation and progress, of 
incitement to action and control of that incitation, 
are correlative, I shall not stop to argue. It may 
be worth while, however, to point out that exactly 
the same correlative and mutually implicating con- 
nection exists between sensationalism and rational- 
ism, considered as philosophical accounts of the 
origin and nature of knowledge. 

The strength of each school lies in the weakness 

\ of its opponent. The more the sensationalist ap- 
pears to succeed in reducing knowledge to the as- 
sociations of sensation, the more he creates a de- 
mand for thought to introduce background and 
relationship. The more consistent the sensational- 
ist, the more openly he reveals the sensation in its 
own nakedness crying aloud for a clothing of 


value and meaning which must be borrowed from 
reflective and rational interpretation. On the 
other hand, the more reason and the system of 
relations that make up the functioning of reason 
are magnified, the more is felt the need of sensa- 
tion to bring reason into some fruitful contact 
with the materials of experience. Reason must 
have the stimulus of this contact in order to be 
incited to its work and to get materials to operate 
with. The cause, then, why neither school can 
come to rest in itself is precisely that each ab- 
stracts one essential factor of conduct. 

This suggests, finally, that the next move in 
philosophy is precisely to transfer attention from 
the details of the position assumed, and the argu- 
ments used in these two schools, to the practical 
motives that have unconsciously controlled the 
discussion. The positions have been sufficiently 
elaborated. Within the past one hundred years, 
within especially the last generation, each has suc- 
ceeded in fully stating its case. The result, if we 
remain at this point, is practically a deadlock. 
Each can make out its case against the other. To 
stop at such a point is a patent absurdity. If we 
are to get out of the cul-de-sac it must be by bring- 
ing, into consciousness the tacit reference to action 
that all the time has been the controlling factor. 

In a word, another great rhythmic movement is 
seen to be approaching its end. The demand for 


science and philosophy was the demand for truth 
and a sure standard of truth which the new-born 
individual might employ in his efforts to build up 
a new world to afford free scope to the powers 
stirring within him. The urgency and acuteness 
of this demand caused, for the time being, the 
transfer of attention from the nature of practice 
to that of knowledge. The highly theoretical and 
abstract character of modern epistemology, com- 
bined with the fact that this highly abstract and 
theoretic problem has continuously engaged the 
attention of thought for more than three centuries, 
is, to my mind, proof positive that the question of 
knowledge was for the time being the point in which 
the question of practice centered, and through 
which it must find outlet and solution. 

We return, then, to our opening problem: the 
meaning of the question of the possibility of knowl- 
edge raised by Kant a century ago, and of his 
assertion that sensation without thought is blind, 
thought without sensation empty. Once more I 
recall to the student of philosophy how this asser- 
tion of Kant has haunted and determined the course 
of philosophy in the intervening years — how his 
if solution at once seems inevitable and unsatisfac- 
tory. It is inevitable in that no one can fairly 
deny that both sense and reason are implicated in 
every fruitful and significant statement of the 
world; unconvincing because we are after all left 


with these two opposed things still at war with 
each other, plus the miracle of their final combina- 

When I say that the only way out is to place the 
whole modern industry of epistemology in relation 
to the conditions that gave it birth and the func- 
tion it has to fulfil, I mean that the unsatisfactory 
character of the entire neo-Kantian movement liesi/ 
in its assumption that knowledge gives birth to it- 
self and is capable of affording its own justifica- 
tion. The solution that is always sought and 
never found so long as we deal with knowledge as 
a self-sufficing purveyor of reality, reveals itself 
when we conceive of knowledge as a statement of 
action, that statement being necessary, moreover, 
to the successful ongoing of action. 

The entire problem of medieval philosophy is 
that of absorption, of assimilation. The, result 
was the creation of the individual. Hence the prob- 
lem of modern life is that of reconstruction, re- 
form, reorganization. The entire content of ex- 
perience needs to be passed through the alembic 
of individual agency and realization. The indi- 
vidual is to be the bearer of civilization ; but this 
involves a remaking of the civilization that he 
bears. Thus we have the dual question : How can 
the individual become the organ of corporate ac- 
tion ? How can he make over the truth authorita- 
tively embodied in institutions of church and state 


into frank, healthy, and direct expressions of the 
simple act of free living? On the other hand, how 
can civilization preserve its own integral value and 
import when subordinated to the agency of the 
individual instead of exercising supreme sway over 

The question of knowledge, of the discovery and 
statement of truth, gives the answer to this ques- 
tion; and it alone gives the answer. Admitting 
that the practical problem of modern life is the 
maintenance of the moral values of civilization 
through the medium of the insight and decision of 
the individual, the problem is foredoomed to futile 
failure save as the individual in performing his 
task can work with a definite and controllable tool. 
This tool is science. But this very fact, constitut- 
ing the dignity of science and measuring the im- 
portance of the philosophic theory of knowledge, 
conferring upon them the religious value once at- 
taching to dogma and the disciplinary significance 
once belonging to political rules, also sets their 
limit. The servant is not above his master. 
/ When a theory of knowledge forgets that its 
value rests in solving the problem out of which it 
has arisen, viz., that of securing a method of action ; 
when it forgets that it has to work out the condi- 
tions under which the individual may freely direct 
himself without loss to the historic values of civili- 
zation — when it forgets these things it begins to 


cumber the ground. It is a luxury, and hence a 
social nuisance and disturber. Of course, in the 
very nature of things, every means or instrument 

I will for a while absorb attention so that it becomes 
the end. Indeed it is the end when it is an indis- 
pensable condition of onward movement. But 
when once the means have been worked out they 
must operate as such. When the nature and 
method of knowledge are fairly understood, then 
interest must transfer itself from the possibility 

I of knowledge to the possibility of its application 

' to life. 

The sensationalist has played his part in bring- 
ing to effective recognition the demand in valid 
knowledge for individuality of experience, for per- 
sonal participation in materials of knowledge. 
The rationalist has served his time in making it 
clear once for all that valid knowledge requires 
organization, and the operation of a relatively per- 
manent and general factor. The Kantian episte- 
mologist has formulated the claims of both schools 
in defining judgment as the relation of percep- 
tion and conception. But when it goes on to state 

I that this relation is itself knowledge, or can be found 
in knowledge, it stultifies itself. Knowledge can 
define the percept and elaborate the concept, but 
their union can be found only in action. The ex- 
perimental method of modern science, its erection 
into the ultimate mode of verification, is simply this 


fact obtaining recognition. Only action can rec- 
•j oncile the old, the general, and the permanent with 
the changing, the individual, and the new. It is 
action as progress, as development, making over 
the wealth of the past into capital with which to 
do an enlarging and freer business, that alone can 
find its way out of the cul-de-sac of the theory of 
knowledge. Each of the older movements passed 
away because of its own success, failed because it 
did its work, died in accomplishing its purpose. 
So also with the modern philosophy of knowledge ; 
there must come a time when we have so much 
knowledge in detail, and understand so well its 
method in general, that it ceases to be a problem. 
It becomes a tool. If the problem of knowledge 
is not intrinsically meaningless and absurd it must 
in course of time be solved. Then the dominating 
interest becomes the use of knowledge; the condi- 
tions under which and ways in which it may be 
most organically and effectively employed to direct 

Thus the Socratic period recurs ; but recurs with 
the deepened meaning of the intervening weary 
years of struggle, confusion, and conflict in the 
growth of the recognition of the need of patient 
and specific methods of interrogation. So, too, the 
authoritative and institutional truth of scholasti- 
cism recurs, but recurs borne up upon the vigorous 
and conscious shoulders of the freed individual who 


is aware of his own intrinsic relations to truth, 
and who glories in his ability to carry civilization 
— not merely to carry it, but to carry it on. 
Thus another swing in the rhythm of theory and 
practice begins. 

How does this concern us as philosophers? For 
the world it means that philosophy is henceforth 
~ v, a method and not an original fountain head of 
truth, nor an ultimate standard of reference. But 
what is involved for philosophy itself in this 
change? I make no claims to being a prophet, 
but I venture one more and final unproved state- 
ment, believing, with all my heart, that it is justi- 
fied both by the moving logic of the situation, and 
by the signs of the times. I refer to the growing 
i transfer of interest from metaphysics and the the- 
j ory of knowledge to psychology and social ethics — 
| including in the latter term all the related concrete 
social sciences, so far as they may give guidance 
to conduct. 

There are those who see in psychology only a 
particular science which they are pleased to term 
purely empirical (unless it happen to restate in 
changed phraseology the metaphysics with which 
they are familiar). They see in it only a more 
or less incoherent mass of facts, interesting be- 
cause relating to human nature, but below the natu- 
ral sciences in point of certainty and definiteness, 
as also far below pure philosophy as to compre- 


hensiveness and ability to deal with fundamental 
issues. But if I may be permitted to dramatize a 
little the position of the psychologist, he can well 
afford to continue patiently at work, unmindful 
of the occasional supercilious sneers of the episte- 
mologist. The cause of modern civilization stands 

j and falls with the ability of the individual to 
serve as its agent and bearer. And psychology 
is naught but the account of the way in which 

j individual life is thus progressively maintained 
and reorganized. Psychology is the attempt to 
state in detail the machinery of the individual 
considered as the instrument and organ through 
which social action operates. It is the answer 
to Kant's demand for the formal phase of ex- 
perience — how experience as such is constituted. 
Just because the whole burden and stress, both 
of conserving and advancing experience is more and 
more thrown upon the individual, everything which 
sheds light upon how the individual may weather 
the stress and assume the burden is precious and 

Social ethics in inclusive sense is the correla- 
tive science. Dealing not with the form or mode 
or machinery of action, it attempts rather to make 

j out its filling and make up the values that are 

' necessary to constitute an experience which is 
worth while. The sociologist, like the psycholo- 
gist, often presents himself as a camp follower of 


genuine science and philosophy, picking up scraps 
here and there and piecing them together in some- 
what of an aimless fashion — fortunate indeed, if 
not vague and over-ambitious. Yet social ethics 
represents the attempt to translate philosophy 
from a general and therefore abstract method into 
a working and specific method; it is the change 
from inquiring into the nature of value in general 
to inquiring as to the particular values that ought 
to be realized in the life of every one, and as to the 
conditions which render possible this realization. 

There are those who will see in this conception of 
the outcome of a four-hundred-year discussion con- 
cerning the nature and possibility of knowledge a 
derogation from the high estate of philosophy. 
There are others who will see in it a sign that phi- 
losophy, after wandering aimlessly hither and yon 
in a wilderness without purpose or outcome, has 
j finally come to its senses- — has given up metaphys- 
ical absurdities and unverifiable speculations, and 
become a purely positive science of phenomena. 
But there are yet others who will see in this move- 
ment the fulfilment of its vocation, the clear con- 
sciousness of a function that it has always striven 
to perform ; and who will welcome it as a justifica- 
tion of the long centuries when it appeared to sit 
apart, far from the common concerns of man, 
busied with discourse of essence and cause, ab- 
sorbed in argument concerning subject and object, 


reason and sensation. To such this outcome will 
appear the inevitable sequel of the saying of Soc- 
rates that " an unexamined life is not one fit to 
be led by man " ; and a better response to his in- 
junction "Know thyself." 




Absolutism, 18, 25, 98, 102, 
109-110, 121-123, 130-132; 
Essay IV., 142-153, 176, 

Acquaintance, and knowl- 
edge, 79-82 

Action, and problem of 
knowledge, Essay XI., 

A priori, 206-213, 292-294 

Appearance, and reality, 26- 
28, 118-121 

Aristotle, referred to, 5, 32, 
35, 37, 48, 50, 78, 221, 278 

Assurance, 85-88 

Awareness, 93 

Behavior, and intelligence, 

Belief, Essay VI., 169-197 
Bosanquet, B., 281 
Bradley, F. H., Essay IV., 


Change, its supposed un- 
reality, 1; in modern 
science, 8-9; and law, 72; 
and thought, 133; of 
truth, 153; of experience, 
222-224, 259-260 

Christianity, metaphysic of, 

Cognitive, 84-85, 230-233 

Conflict, and thinking, 116- 
117, 126-127, 132, 148-149 

Consistency, as criterion, 

Consciousness, as end of 
nature, 34-35; is partial, 
43; and knowledge, 79- 
80, 102, 171; Essay X., 
242-270; non-existence of, 
Correspondence, 158 
Cosmology, and morals, 54 
Custom, as background of 
morals, 48, 52 

Darwin, his influence on 
philosophy, Essay I., 1-19; 
quoted, 2, 12 

Democracy, moral meaning 
of, 59-60, 266-267 

Descartes, 8 

Design, see Teleology 

Economic Struggle, 21, 29, 

35, 41, 50 
Economics, influences on 

morals, 57-59 
Empiricism, 200-202; Essay 

IX., 226-241, 289-291 
Epistemology, versus logic, 

95-107, 172, 185, 201, 296- 

Error, and becoming, 100 
Evolution, of species, 1, 8; 

and design, 12-13; and 

teleology, 32-35; and in- 
telligence, 42-43 
Experience, Essay VII., 

Experiment, and knowledge, 

Essay IV., 77-111 




Feeling, 80-81 
Final Cause, see Teleology- 
Functions, true data of 
psychology, 250-255 

Galileo, 8 

Genesis, and value, 261-264 

Good, is concrete and plural, 
15-17, 23, 27; of Nature, 
Essay II., 20-45; and evo- 
lution, 31-35, 43; and 
mysticism, 39, 42; Greek 
view of, 46-50; medieval 
view of, 52-54; as fixed, 

Gordon, K., 215 n. 

Gray, Asa, on evolution and 
design, 12 

Happiness, nature of, 69 
Hegel, 65, 174 n. 
Hobbes, 203 n. 
Hume, 82 n. ; 204 n. 

Idealism, 28, 38, 191, Essay 
VII., 198-225, 228 

Ideality, 89, 120, 219-225 

Ideas, nature of, 134, 155; 
their verification, 141 fl\ ; 
are hypothetical, 144, 150- 
151, 187 

Individual, 244, 265-68, 285, 

Intellectualism, Essay IV., 
112-153, 159 

Intelligence, is discrimina- 
tive, 39, 42, 75; is the 
good of nature, 44; and 
Morals, Essay HI., 46-76; 
cosmic and personal, 55, 
59; as biological instru- 
ment, 68; indirection of 
activity, 133, 149 

Introspection, 250 n. 

James, Wm., 104, 194 n., 202, 

222 n., 246 
Judgment, Bradley's theory 

of, 114-117; of the past, 

160-61, 165; Kant's theory 

of, 272 

Kant, 63-65, 206-213, 271 
Knowledge, its proper ob- 
ject, 6, 10, 14; and nature, 
41; and freedom, 73; The 
Experimental Theorv of, 
Essay IV., 77-111 j de- 
fined, 90; and inquiry, 
184-189; Essay XI., prob- 
lem of, 271-304 

Locke, 93, 202-204, 217-218 

Maine, Sir Henry, quoted, 

Meaning, and knowledge, 87- 
90; and judgment, He- 
ll 7, 200 

Mechanism, 23, 34, 57 

Memory, 220 

Moore, A. W., 91 n. 

Morals, Essay III., 46-76 

Mysticism, 38-40, 42 

Naturalism, 195 

Nature, teleology of, 10; 
The Good of, Essay II, 
20-45; animistic character 
of, 51; change in, 72 

Newton, influence of, 61, 72 

Organization, of experience, 

Perception, ambiguity of 

term, 214-219 
Philosophy, changes in, 14- 

19; political nature of, 21; 

denned 45; and science, 



51; and psychology, 189- 
191; Essay X., 242-270 

Plato, 21, 47, 49, 72, 219 n., 

Pragmatism, 25, 31, 33, 55, 
95 n., 109, 130 n., 144; Es- 
say V. t 154-168, 193 

Psychical, 81 n., 104 

Psychology, and philosophy, 
Essay X., 242-270, 301 

Rationalism, Essay XL, 271- 

"Reality," 98, 105, 113, 129, 

169 n., 172, 228, 264 
Relation, and appearance, 


Santayana, G., 96, 224 n. 

Sciences, developed out of 
morals, 56, and industry, 
57-58; as mode of knowl- 
edge, 108; and philosophy, 
268-270, 287 

Sensation, 94, 262 n. 

Sensationalism, Essay XI., 

Social Ethics, 302-304 

Socrates, 51, 76, 275, 304 

Species, equivalent to 
scholastic form, 3-4; as 
eternal and teleological, 4- 
5; basis of knowledge, 6-7 

Spencer, Herbert, 16, 33, 66 

Spinoza, 181 

Stoicism, 172, 279 
Stuart, H. W., 214 n. 
Subjective, 98, 155, 204 n., 

Teleology, of life, 4; of 
nature, 10, 32; basis of 
idealism, 11; concrete, 15, 
22; and evolution, 32-35; 
subjective, 223-224 

Theory, 124-127 

Thinking, practical charac- 
ter of, 124-127 

Tolstoi, 173 n. 

Transcendence, of knowl- 
edge, 103 n., 156-157 

Transcendental, and super- 
natural, 22, 29, 282; view 
of knowledge, 24, 27; 
freedom, 74 

Truth, criterion of, 92, 95, 
107-111; Essay IV., 112- 
153; absolute, 137; iden- 
tified with existence, 138, 
145; eternal, 147, 152; 
Essay V., 154-168; 230- 
231, 237, 282 

Utilitarianism, 62 

Verification, making true, 
139 ff., 162-164 

Woodbridge, F. J. E., 104 n., 
240 n. 



B Dewey, John 
945 The influence of Darwin 

D4314 on philosophy ^_ .1 
1910 J\M^Jfe> 

cop. 2 




ii Urn '"«Ht ii 



:«ii '■! lift! lift 



II! ill II 




i! 1 



1 1 



i !| .,.,. 

ili li lit ii jj J! Ii 


illilil Iiii I I 






,1 Ii 



111 ill 




iliiiii 11 

jj! iH i I I 





ii'i'M: 4ii! .ili 

III ^ 


ii ! ! l! 

"Ill I I i 

ill Iiiiiii 

■ I lit